Lawyer has no case to answer says QCAT

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has dismissed charges against a Gold Coast solicitor, saying the practitioner acted professionally, honestly and appropriately.

Runaway Bay lawyer Lili Bulyk was charged by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) over a complaint made by a client in relation to a de facto property settlement.

In a 17-page judgment delivered last week, Justice Davis said there was “real doubt that Ms Bulyk could even be said to be negligent let alone liable to disciplinary action”.

The LSC had alleged that between 6 November 2018 and 11 June 2021, Ms Bulyk had failed to deliver legal services competently and diligently to her client by not advising them of the statutory time limit to file an application for a de facto property settlement claim under Section 44(5) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

It had also alleged that between 6 November 2018 and 15 June 2021, Ms Bulyk failed to make cost disclosures to the client as required by ss 308(1) and 310(1) of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld).

Ms Bulyk stated she was confident she would have advised the client of the time limit, but did not confirm the limit in writing.


“The applicant took this as a denial of the complainant’s assertions. It is not,” Justice Davis said.

“Ms Bulyk cannot be expected to make an express concession that she did not advise the complainant of the time limitation.

“Doing the best she can, she thinks she would have told the complainant of the limitation period because that was her practice.

“With no express memory of telling the complainant of the time limitation, and no written advice to that effect, Ms Bulyk, in her written submission, effectively concedes that the complainant’s evidence should be accepted.

“That approach is the professional, honest and correct one.”

Justice Davis said a lack of contact from the client, and the fact the client dealt with the matter herself for almost two years, created doubt over whether Ms Bulyk even had a current retainer.


“When the complainant made allegations against her, Ms Bulyk acted completely professionally and appropriately. She notified her insurer,” he said.

In deciding charge two, Justice Davis said the complaint was not a failure to provide an estimate of fees but rather that two bills together exceeded $1500 and a costs estimate should have been provided.

“Contrary to the complainant’s assertions to the applicant, there was costs disclosure at least in part,” he said.

“She was clearly told by email that Ms Bulyk was charging $440 per hour, inclusive of GST. The only failure was not to give an estimate.

“The complainant did not complain that either invoice was excessive or was of an amount that was unexpected. The complainant’s complaint about costs disclosure seems very much to be an afterthought.”

Further, Justice Davis said the client’s demands for repayment of the fees were not justified.


“There is nothing to suggest that the work was done other than properly. The complainant made no complaint about Ms Bulyk’s services (or her bills) until she realised she was out of time to file her property settlement application,” he said.

“Ms Bulyk failed to provide a costs estimate. However, she did so in circumstances where she was attending to immediate issues … There is nothing to suggest that the complainant was disadvantaged in any way by the failure to provide a costs estimate.

“Further, when confronted with the complaints, Ms Bulyk referred the matter to her insurer and made arrangements to repay the fees notwithstanding that, in my view, she had no legal obligation to do so.”

Justice Davis concluded that although Ms Bulyk did not make full disclosure as required by the Act, “on any sensible view, it was a minor infraction which caused the complainant no disadvantage”.

“When confronted with the complaints, Ms Bulyk immediately took steps to remedy the situation and, in my view, went further than she was required to do,” he said.

“Perfection in legal practice is not possible. A failure to reach perfection does not automatically constitute unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct. For the reasons given, Ms Bulyk has committed neither.”

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