The name of Denise E. King, a former solicitor in the NSW-Region has been struck off the local roll. Sources report that sometime in 2012, King was representing a client in a case that bordered on parenting arrangements for the child of the client.
In particular, it was for the client’s extended trip outside the country with her daughter and her partner at that time who was not the father of the child.
They had to negotiate with the father of the child and that led to an agreement that King’s client could take her daughter outside the country for 8 months the following year. While giving the final orders, the judicial officer that presided over the case called out incorrect dates and that made the period different from the initial agreement.
The client subsequently identified the incorrect dates and that occasioned additional negotiations. In September of that same year, King sent an invoice for her services to the client even though there was a former estimate of approximately 285 dollars for the drafting of orders as well as signing done by a judicial officer. A response was sent back to her by the partner of her client who indicated that there were mistakes in the form used for the consent orders which contained false names.
Subsequently, King reportedly asked her client for an immediate payment for her services and stated that she would only send a sealed copy upon receipt of payment. The client replied and complained about how her matter was being handled with particular reference to the document that contained false names.
The client further noted that she had been in direct communication with the relevant judicial officer as well as the father of her child in a move to resolve the issue. She added that she no longer required the services of King, was not going to pay any outstanding fee and would go ahead to take the issue further.
King’s Further Actions
King later wrote to her client that she had appropriately represented her interests and helped her save costs. She also allegedly threatened that she would commence proceedings for debt recovery. To that, the client again replied that the matter had been settled and told King to stop as her actions were unwarranted.
However, on the 3rd of October 2012, King reportedly sent a mail to the judicial officer’s associate and made reference to defamatory allegations made against her via email ( purportedly by her client). She also allegedly denied sending any document that contained a false name and alleged the probability that it was either generated by the father of the child for mischief purposes or even her client as a way to avoid making payments.
She also made reference to her client’s allegations that her charges were excessive to which he outlined her experience and qualifications in family law.
In addition, she reportedly forwarded a mail to her client noting that she didn’t make a reference to any Homer Simpson in the previous orders sent to her. She also sent to her client an amended invoice and demanded an immediate payment else she would commence proceedings for debt recovery.
The client sent a response telling King to stop the harassment, and King replied claiming that she was telling lies. King further noted that she was inclined to ask the presiding officer to reconsider the previous order permitting her to travel overseas for 8 months and she did so on the 3rd of October 2012.
The client subsequently complained about King’s conduct to Legal Services Commissioner and the matter was sent to the Law Society. King denied the accusations about the document containing false names. She, however, made mention of the fact that she owed the court a duty to report the false allegations made by her client which pointed to the fact that her client was dishonest.
The Tribunal was not satisfied that the document alleged to have been created by King which made reference to some other parties were indeed created by her. However, the Tribunal was sufficiently satisfied that she wrote to the associate of the judicial officer and made comments that were derogatory of her client as well as the father of the client’s daughter.
According to the Tribunal, the allegations which King made about the clients were very serious ones. Further, the tribunal found that the manner in which she demanded the outstanding payment amounted to threats and she also refused to disclose costs as stipulated by the legislation.
Her communication to the presiding judicial officer’s associate as well as the threats was considered to constitute professional misconduct. Also, her failure to disclose cost was also held to constitute professional conduct that was deemed unsatisfactory. The tribunal ultimately ordered the removal of her name from the roll.