Fair Trading Nabs False Solicitor
by Tim O'Dwyer M.A., LL.B
Gold Coast conveyancing clerk Anne Mullins and her company Simply Conveyancing Australia Pty Ltd have pleaded guilty to Office of Fair Trading charges that they falsely held themselves out as legal practitioners in breach of Sections 573A and 573C of the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act (PAMDA). Fair Trading may have made legal history when it laid these “marketeering” charges, in circumstances of apparent illegal property conveyancing, because no other action was taken by the Legal Services Commissioner under the protective legislation he polices.
The Commercial and Consumer Tribunal heard evidence from Fair Trading that on a number of occasions a licensed real estate agent referred property buyers to Mullins and her company to handle their conveyancing.
By their conduct and their documentation both Mullins and Simply Conveyancing gave, in the words of the Tribunal, “every appearance of acting as solicitors in a conveyancing matter.” Simply Conveyancing’s letterheads even included a notation: “Division of D L McClelland & Co. Solicitors”. The Tribunal noted how solicitor Douglas McClelland from that firm had earlier explained to the Queensland Law Society that this notation was not correct and that, on learning of the letterhead, he had directed the removal of his name.
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