CHOICE membership

Oversight of Delivery of Professional Services

I share with you a Letter I had occasion to send the taxpayer funded (NSW) Office of the Legal Services Commissioner nearly four months ago.

23 February 2021

Office of the Legal Services Commissioner
Level 9 OCBC Building
75 Castlereagh Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000

Dear Sir / Madam

This ad appeared in the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser on 15 Feb 2021. I am a digital subscriber to the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser and I cannot recall seeing a similar advertisement prior to or subsequent to 15 Feb 2021
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Website for Creaghe, Lisle remains current, and shows as opened if viewed during normal business hours. https://www.creaghelisle.com/ . The website shows the premises from which Creaghe Lisle operated from up until two plus (?) years ago. Their current address of 88 Fitzmaurice Street, Wagga Wagga is shown correctly.

A screenshot of Creaghe Lisle’s front door at 88 Fitzmaurice Street, Wagga Wagga, taken approx. 3.00 pm, 15 Feb 2021 follows.

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It is evident that this firm has been closed at least since 24 December 2020.

My complaint goes to the professionalism of Creaghe, Lisle and Wagga Conveyancing and Law. Having been a client of Creaghe Lisle since the early 1980’s, why did they not see fit to email / send a letter to advise the changed arrangements. Does an apparent one-off ad in the local newspaper suffice?

Is it appropriate for this ad to appear nearly two months after Creaghe, Lisle operations have, for all intents, ceased in Wagga Wagga.

Is it appropriate that our wills, Powers of Attorney and other documents have now been transferred to another organisation without our knowledge or consent?

Hoping for the best, where would our beneficiaries have gone in the future, being advised that Creaghe, Lisle is the repository of our final wishes?

I have since retrieved all our documents from Wagga Conveyancing and Law and lodged them with a known and long-established Wagga Wagga Law firm. (which Creaghe Lisle once was)

Your Faithfully,

I have previously posted in a separate topic about the need for a Department of Fair Trading given my disappointment with the service I received and the apparent lack of powers this body has.

I now broaden my concern to the general oversight of the delivery of Professional Services. Four months and still waiting in this particular instance for a response from this taxpayer funded body which allegedly oversights the delivery of Legal Services in NSW. If perchance an officer of this body happens upon this post the reference number is CAS002130.

What has been the experience of Choice members in pursuing complaints against the providers of professional services. eg Accountants, Dentists, Medical Professionals, Real Estate Agents, Solicitors etc.

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The website is no longer hosted…

I wonder if the owner(s)/partner(s) have retired and its clients taken over by the new solicitor firm. They could have also amalgamated. There could have been a death in the practice. These are rational and reasonable reasons why files have moved to the new firm.

The Cairns reference could be the registered address of the firm.

It is poor customer relations and is a bit like how big business or government advises the community. It would have been good practice to send out a letter to all existing clients to advise what was happening.

Old clients they might not notify as their contact records may be very much out of date,

Did you ask them what has happened and why files have been transferred? They might give you all the answers rather than assuming something sinister may have happened.

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It’s an interesting sequence of events. Most odd that there was no forewarning or written/emailed advice. Importantly no mention of a request for instruction or acceptance. The law firm did not amalgamate or retire. It relocated from Wagga NSW to Cairns Qld. Likely premeditated and subject to the independent registration requirements for legal practice in Qld.

Not advising in advance, whatever the circumstance would be a concern. The transfer of personal documentation and related information to a third party, without agreement unacceptable.

Note:
Our experience with a retiring solicitor. We were advised well in advance in writing. The option to transfer or collect and choose another offered. We took the second as we were then 1400km distant.

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I can’t see any evidence this is the case. It appears a former employee of the solicitors has moved to Cairns (for some season) and is retained as an interim contact for the firm.

There isn’t any evidence of the firm existing as a practising business in Cairns or the contact as a practising solicitor in Cairns.

As the website is no longer hosted, this why it appears that the firm no longer exists. It is possible it was wound up, bought out, amalgamated or just closed up for some reason (owners’ retirement, death etc).

Wagga Conveyancing and Law should be able to confirm what happened to Creaghe Lisle.

This is common practice for professional services such consultancies, solicitor firms, doctors, financial advisors etc. When they are taken over/amalgamated etc they are transferred/become part if the new business.

Generally current active clients are advised of the change in business, where files/records are kept, new contact details and who will now be their principal point of contact.

Old clients/accounts are not individually advised as many may not exist anymore or may have different contact details (e.g. moved). To try and track down potentially scores/hundreds of old clients can be a near impossible task…this is why general notifications such as an advertisement in a local paper.

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That former employee appears to be the Director, not just a random contact person.

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The notice implies he is still in business as is the company. There are two obvious points of contact for details, Wagga Conveyancing and the email (possibly no longer functional) and mobile numbers for Simon Finch.

The complaint is reasonable as one would hope a solicitors office would work to higher standards than this one appears to have done.

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The reason for the change could be as benign as a change in name. A partner/director could have retired (moved to Cairns) with the remaining partners/directors choosing to make it a time to change the name to better reflect the location and services provided. I don’t know nor anyone else who has posted in the thread. I have been involved in a business name change in the 1990s for a small firm I worked for…to remove the name of the director/owner and to better reflect the business structure.

A letter/email could have been sent out advising of the change but is was returned to sender for some reason…for example, contact details had changed. Don’t know, but thinking that they could have had higher standards is also based on speculation and not knowing what has happened.

The complaint isn’t founded when it is based on speculation or assumptions of what may or may have not happened. As they have both provided contact details on their office door and subsequently in the advertisement, it could have been very easy to pick up the phone or send an email to find out what has happened to the solicitor firm.

The reasons could be benign, rational and reasonable and picking up the phone/sending an email and could have avoided unnecessary stress and time thinking that something sinister has gone on…and making a complaint without information containing to the circumstances leading to the change.

Until one has such information, it can’t be determined if a complaint is justified or the firm had undertaken reasonable measures to advice past clients (since its inception 60 years ago).

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  1. I asked the Principal of Wagga Conveyancing and Law how many staff she had. She advised none. This question was in relation to the difficulty in phone contact and business being closed during normal business hours.

  2. There was no indication that Wagga Conveyancing and Law is part of a larger company, and indeed there is no match in trading name.

  3. The complaint with the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner has been allocated a reference which, according to their website, means the complaint has been accepted and transferred to a Case Officer. The reference number was quoted in my original post. The Dept. of Fair Trading have no jurisdiction in this matter and at no stage have been involved with this matter.

  4. Whether any correspondence was sent will be determined by the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner. I believe that it will be found that no correspondence was sent. My address predates any involvement with Creaghe, Lisle.

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Hi folks, I removed some of the comments here as a precaution since the complaint is ongoing and we don’t want to overstep the bounds of our forum or cause any further complications. While we do often receive bad reviews in the forum and at CHOICE in general, we also want to take care of all participants of the Community and this includes when a complaint or bad review is particularly legalistic in nature. We encourage others to share their experiences, but please take care when doing so and if unsure, you can reach out to a CHOICE staff member such as myself.

@rabbittt - Four months is a long time to be waiting, I can definitely understand your frustration. I can see you’ve already taken the right steps, and giving them the occasional follow up to the OLSC on 1800 242 958 can’t hurt if you’re not doing this already. All the best getting a resolution.

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All the best with getting a proper response from the OLSC office.

Attorney-General Greg Smith (2011-2014), who tabled the Law Society’s report in parliament some years ago, said it was important that lawyers were held to account.

For public information, let it be known that reasonable, fully documented complaints can, and are sometimes completely ignored by the OLSC, even when they had/still have information that lack of actions caused serious personal safety issues to those reporting the issues. Refer to cases 41366 in 2013 and 56561 in 2019.

It took six years to collect evidence submitted to OLSC with allegations of serious professional misconduct by a strata solicitor (including preparation of false statements in Statutory Declaration for strata manager for CTTT and Affidavit for District Court, inducing strata manager to secretly change insurance policy and claim legal costs for non-existent CTTT case in amount above $26,000.00, where four years later CHU Insurance forced owners corporation to replay $8,800.00, non-compliance with CTTT orders to provide documents, acting without owners corporation approval at any general meeting, falsely claiming to Fair Trading and CTTT to be legal representative for owners corporation, claiming that they lost files when Police asked for assistance, and more). OLSC received full evidence for these claims. It took four months for them to reach the following decision:

BEGIN QUOTE
not a client of and not an authorised person of the client.
END QUOTE

Basically, the evidence WAS IGNORED and NOT CHECKED.

In our response to OLSC, the following was said, among the others:

BEGIN QUOTE
Solicitor’s duty of care to non-client
Carey v Freehills [2013] FCA 954 - Justice Kenny summarised the law in relation to the circumstances in
which a solicitor will be found to have a duty of care to a person who has not retained him or her. Some
examples:

In Hill v van Erp at 167, Brennan CJ said:

Generally speaking… a solicitor’s duty is owed solely to the client subject to the rules and standards of the profession. That is because the solicitor’s duty is to exercise professional knowledge and skill in the lawful protection and advancement of the client’s interests in the transaction in which the solicitor is retained and that duty cannot be tempered by the existence of a duty to any third person whose interests in the transactions are not coincident with the interests of the client.
…
There are, however, circumstances in which a duty of care on the part of a solicitor may arise
independently of a retainer. Thus, a duty of care has been said to arise in the context of negligent
misstatement causing loss: see Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd [1964] AC 465 and Esanda Finance Corporation Ltd v Peat Marwick Hungerfords (1997) 188 CLR 241, at 252 (Brennan CJ).

Office of the Legal Services Commissioner wrongfully assumes that my interests differ from their so-called “client’s interests”. On the contrary. We want to prevent and fight against:

Financial mismanagement of the complex,
Unnecessary litigations that benefit only a Solicitor and a selective group of owners (discriminating
majority of other owners),
Fraudelent insurance claims for non-existent CTTT case,
Lower insurance costs by decreasing risks of litigations and illegal activities,
Full transparency in the management of the complex, including full financial statements before the general meetings,
Full fire safety compliance,
Full OH&S compliance,
Tender for major renovations and works,
Full compliance with NSW and Federal laws.
Physical safety of all owners,
Equal rights for all owners, irrelevant of their race, sex, nationality, and other attributes.

We challenge the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner to prove that our interests differ from those of the “client” (fully understanding that interests of few EC members and the strata manager are not relevant or beneficial to the whole owners corporation).

Office of the Legal Services Commissioner can accept anonymous complaints
According to OLSC’s own FAQ, the Legal Services Commissioner may accept an anonymous complaint, if the complaint raises a serious matter and there is sufficient information in the complaint to assist him to conduct an investigation.

It is understood that it may be difficult to resolve or investigate an anonymous complaint if one does not provide the contact details or further information is required from them.

This raises a very important question: if a serious matter is raised by an anonymous complaint, how would Office of the Legal Services Commissioner make a decision whether the issue is a disciplinary matter or a consumer matter.

Legal Services Commissioner may initiate a complaint about a solicitor on their own motion
FAQ at Office of the Legal Services Commissioner clearly defines a process where the Legal Services
Commissioner (LSC) may initiate a complaint about a solicitor or a barrister on their own motion, as a result of receiving information relating to the conduct by a lawyer from any source that may be capable of amounting to unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, including a member of the public.

Solicitor failed to acknowledge that a contract for his engagement had to be valid

Over the last seven years, Solicitor was well informed and had received numerous pieces of evidence that our strata plan had problems with validity of Executive Committee and that their decisions were not made with valid quorum, as per SSMA 1996 and 2015.

Failing to know that a contract for his engagement had to be valid is negligent to the extent that disciplinary action can and should be taken due to repetitive nature of his involvement.

Lawyers are an integral part of the administration of justice in legal system - they must at all times act within the law and uphold the law when engaging in their occupation
We believe these to be truth:

Section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 states that a person who, by any deception, dishonestly obtains
property belonging to another, or obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage,
is guilty of the offence of fraud, with maximum penalty of imprisonment for 10 years.

Section 316 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) makes the knowing concealment of information relating to a
“serious indictable offence” a crime punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment. Section 4 of that Act defines “serious indictable offence” to mean an indictable offence that is punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of 5 years or more. Subject to certain exclusions this generally includes the fraud offences in Part 4AA of that Act as well as stealing and similar offences in Part 4.

Section 316(1) states if a person has committed a serious indictable offence and another person who
knows or believes that the offence has been committed and that he or she has information which might
be of material assistance in securing the apprehension of the offender or the prosecution or conviction
of the offender for it fails without reasonable excuse to bring that information to the attention of a
member of the Police Force or other appropriate authority, that other person is liable to imprisonment
for 2 years.

There is currently no maximum elapsed time period for indictable offences in NSW.

Solicitor misled the court and abused the court processes

and much more…
END QUOTE

OLSC never replied.

So, sincere wishes that you, and everybody else who has taken time and effort to submit issues to organizatins like OLSC (made possible by tax payers), are taken seriously.

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Have you considered a civil case in the Courts? You may find that a No Win no Fee may be interested.

You could also try

Non returned phone calls (plural) from OLSC. Have just sent details for a suggested story to 7.30 report.

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Hi rabittt
Your not alone here! We were still going through our civil case when Creaghe Lisle become uncontactable & we received many excuses. Not living in Wagga, we had not seen that notice, but like you did not receive any correspondence.
Even tho they closed Wagga office, our last invoice from Creaghe Lisle April 2021, which we disputed, had the old Wagga letter head with Wagga address & ph number.
We too have lodged a complaint with OLSC and are progressing albeit slowly through our complaints.
We have been advised that Creaghe Lisle is now in the hands of administrators & Simon Finch has had others lodge complaints with OLSC.

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Welcome @Smiley to the community.

It looks as if in @rabbittt sharing his initial concerns there is more than one client with similar feedback on Creaghe Lisle.

The comment on the header of the April invoice suggests the Law Form is still registered/licensed to practice in NSW. Are you been made aware of who the administrators are? There is usually public notification advising the same for clients, creditors and debtors.

We are one of the ones bothered to submit a complaint to OLSC, see my response to rabbittt, for more info.
I believe like dealing with NCAT, VCAT etc and the justice system in general, they purposefully make it difficult and drawn out to discourage the complaints.
After taking the time & effort to attach all supporting documents with our complaint, as requested, a couple of months later we were informed they had an issue with their systems & they did not save.
I was asked if I wish to still lodge a complaint & had to start again.
Then more recently I received an email to say the person I lodged a complaint with is very unwell & do I wish to proceed?
I then was required to provide documents supporting once again.
I would be interested to see how many people actually are taken serious!

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Hi no I do not know yet. I was informed today by our OLSC case manager.
Not sure what everyone else’s files look like, but ours that OLSC had been able to recover are a mess and there is a lot of stuff missing.

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Unfortunately there is more to this story and I hope all affected do lodge a complaint to OLSC about this firms conduct.
The person moving to Cairns was not an employee, he was the sole director of a once reputable law firm & was still operating under the Creaghe Lisle banner in QLD.

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If the firm has gone into administration like you have been advised, it won’t be the solicitor firm but the appointed administrators who will be responsible for the activities of solicitor firm post appointment. Administrators take control of a company after they are appointed. Usually a director or owner can’t make any representations for the company in administration, such as contacting creditors etc. In some cases, they are locked out of the companies operations (office locks can be changed and company files secured for example) so that the work of the administrators isn’t hindered/frustrated.

The original post was about the oversight of delivery of Professional Services. The concern was the continuing lack of response to date displayed by the OLSC…not to mention the inability to have phone calls answered by this body. The issue is not the role of Administrators but the apparent failure of the OLSC to respond to the perceived lack of Professionalism of a registered solicitor / legal firm.

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If Creaghe Lisle is under administration, the OLSC may not be able to proceed with the investigation of any complaint as the business subject of the complaint in effect may not exist or has been/is being wound up . This may be why…

It may be worth approaching OLSC to find out whether they continue investigations when a business goes into administration and administrators have been appointed. This assumes that advice given to @Smiley is correct.

Not sure if you have an affiliation with this law firm, however I can categorically say the person mentioned was the sole director. I do know more details but this is not the place to discuss.
We were the plaintiffs in a civil case re a structural defective home for the past 4 years with this person representing us.
Having settled March 2021, with a not so desirable outcome, 2 days prior to hearing, as a result of events out of our control involving said person.
A complaint has been lodged and is being actioned by OLSC.
I do have a barrister involved in the complaint & other matters but thank you for the input anyway.

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