Tuesday, March 25, 2014
I have lost count of the number of cases where my attention to detail made all the difference to whether my client was successful or not in a case. For example, a father swore that his criminal history was attached to his affidavit. When I looked at his criminal history, I noticed the very small print that said it had been printed by police on Christmas Day, some months after the father’s last conviction. Alerted, I wrote to the father’s solicitors- and voila!- it turns out that there was another criminal offence- when he had broken into someone’s house and terrorised them, resulting in a suspended jail sentence. Oops!
I remember well two superannuation cases- both involving accredited specialists on the other side. In one, the specialist was insistent that a valuation not be obtained. My client’s super should have been worth $1 million, but on the papers was worth only a quarter of that. The specialist cost his client about $400,000.
In the other, the superannuation statement said that it was worth $200,000. Well, that was on the top of the page. The specialist calculated that the value of my client’s super was $200,000. Whoops! In the fine print on that same page, that I saw and he should have seen if he had been careful with the document; if certain conditions were met (and had been met), my client’s super was worth double that: $400,000. I got ethical advice on that one. I could not mislead the other lawyer, but nor was I obliged to correct his (major) error. The other lawyer cost his client about $120,000.
It is absolutely essential when engaging a lawyer that you have one who has that attention to detail. Otherwise it could cost you a lot of money, or have disastrous repercussions for you in court.