Lawyer fined for misconduct

By Alex Easton

BALLINA solicitor Mark Flynn has been fined and publicly reprimanded for professional misconduct.

Mr Flynn, the principal of Ballina firm Mark Flynn & Associates, was fined $6500 and reprimanded by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal over his handling of an elderly client's finances.

The tribunal found Mr Flynn:

Filed documents giving an elderly client's daughter Power of Attorney, as he had been instructed, but signed the documents as a witness even though he had not been present when his client and her daughter had signed them; and

Transferred property from his client to her daughter on the instructions of the daughter's husband rather than on his client's instructions.

In 2003 the NSW Guardianship Tribunal intervened and took control of Mr Flynn's client's estate and lodged a caveat on the property transferred to the daughter, blocking her access to it.

When asked by the daughter's husband, Mr Flynn gave advice on ways the caveat could be lifted, which the tribunal found put him in a conflict of interest.

When it came time to collect his fee, Mr Flynn sent his client a tax invoice, along with a form to sign that would let him take the money he was owed directly from her trust fund.

The client signed and returned the form and returned it to Mr Flynn, who then took the money he was owed.

However, the tribunal found that, because the Guardianship Tribunal had taken control of his client's estate, the form signed by his client did not give Mr Flynn the right to take money from her trust fund.

According to the tribunal's judgment, Mr Flynn openly confessed his actions when challenged about them during a Supreme Court case between the Protective Commissioner and his client's daughter, and immediately accepted his actions were wrong.

Mr Flynn's lawyer told the tribunal that, while Mr Flynn accepted he was in the wrong, he had never been consciously dishonest.

The tribunal ordered Mr Flynn be publicly reprimanded, fined him $4000, and ordered him to pay the costs of $2500.

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