Keddies’ ‘Hopeless’ Claim Under Fire
Article courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald – By Louise Hall COURTS
February 8, 2011
The law firm Keddies has been criticised by a District Court judge for the ”disturbing” way it conducted business in a case against a rival firm, and its solicitors have been referred to the watchdog.
Keddies, which became known for its aggressive no-win, no-fee policy, brought a ”hopeless” claim that never had any reasonable prospect of success, in breach of the Legal Profession Act, Judge Andrew Colefax found.
Keddies initiated a suit against the law firm Stacks on behalf of their client Andrew Marshall, whose son Matthew was killed in a car accident in 2001.
Stacks had represented Mr Marshall in his claim for damages for nervous shock against Allianz, the insurer of the driver, which was settled in 2002.
Stacks had advised against accepting the settlement, which was a small amount, but Mr Marshall insisted.
In 2007, Keddies claimed Stacks had acted negligently in carrying out Mr Marshall’s instructions to settle the Allianz claim.
The firm said Stacks should have insisted Mr Marshall consult a psychiatrist and seek a second legal opinion when he did not take their advice.
But Judge Colefax found that in bringing the case and continuing it until at least July 2009, Keddies was in breach of the act and a personal costs order could be made against the partners.
Deliberately withholding from Mr Marshall for months a warning from their own senior counsel that the case should be abandoned was ”an unacceptable departure from proper practice”, Judge Colefax said.
The chairman of Stacks, Maurie Stack, said the case would discourage lawyers from pursuing unmeritorious claims in the hope that the defendant would negotiate a settlement rather than fight the case.
In 2008 the Herald exposed Keddies’ gross overcharging of clients and last year founding partner Russell Keddie admitted to the Legal Services Commissioner that he was responsible.
The remaining partners have moved to another no-win, no-fee firm, Slater and Gordon.