Advertisement

Lawyer struck off over two-year filing delay

A Gold Coast lawyer is to be struck off after she delayed a client’s case for two years then offered no explanation to the investigating body.

The Legal Services Commissioner (LSC) brought two disciplinary charges against Gold Coast solicitor Sarah Jane Mouritz after a complaint made by a client in 2020.

The LSC alleged Ms Mouritz failed to maintain reasonable standards of competence and diligence when acting for the client in relation to an employment matter between 28 September 2018 and 21 September 2020.

It also alleged that without reasonable excuse, she failed to comply with a written notice issued by the LSC requiring her to give a full explanation of her conduct the subject of the complaint.

In the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Decision (QCAT) decision published on Friday, Justice Brown stated Ms Mouritz had delayed initiating proceedings in the Magistrates Court on behalf of her client for two years, and had failed to respond to his enquiries.

“Ultimately, after (the client) had followed up the respondent on multiple occasions and gone into the office on a number of occasions, he notified the respondent that he would complain to the Commission if the information he requested as to confirmation of filing of the claim was not forthcoming,”  Justice Brown said.

Advertisement

After filing a complaint with the LSC, the client terminated his retainer with Ms Mouritz, filed the material himself, and engaged new legal representation. The matter was finalised in nine months.

“Despite (the client) showing the patience of a saint and giving her repeated opportunities to do so, she failed to progress his matter to such an extent that he had to end the retainer and get alternative solicitors who were able to resolve the matter within a period of months,” Justice Brown said.

Ms Mouritz’s conduct in dealing with the matter was ruled to be unsatisfactory professional conduct.

Her failure to engage or give any explanation for her conduct to the LSC was “a serious dereliction of her obligations as a legal professional”, and ruled to be professional misconduct.

“In the circumstances, the Tribunal is satisfied that the protection of the public demands that the respondent’s name be removed from the roll of practitioners as a result of her professional misconduct,” Justice Brown said

Ms Mauritz was also ordered to pay the LSC’s costs.

Advertisement
Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search by keyword