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No disciplinary response needed for EQC claim, but faults noted

02 March 2018

[Names used in this article are ficticious]

A lawyers standards committee has decided to take no further action on a complaint that a lawyer failed her clients regarding EQC and private insurance claims.  However, the committee said that in conveyancing involving EQC claims “template letters … can assist in expanding the ambit of relevant information, and provide best evidence of advice given.  The committee suggests that [the lawyer] may consider implementing this practice in future.”

The clients, a husband and wife, bought a property in which they had been tenants for 18 months before the purchase.

The husband complained that the lawyer, Simpcox, failed to obtain a completed Deed of Assignment of EQC insurance claim before settlement in July 2016. He also complained that Simpcox failed to advise on private insurance claims, including damage to a drive and paths estimated to cost $40,000 to repair.

Simpcox told the committee that the Deed of Assignment of EQC insurance claim had been successfully completed, with quite some effort by her staff, by mid-August 2016.

Simpcox also said she asked about both EQC and private insurance claims twice before settlement, and that a claim had been successfully lodged with an insurance company covering the driveway and paths.

The committee noted that the Deed of Assignment of EQC Claim was incomplete on settlement day.  That presented a risk to the clients of which they should have been aware.

Simpcox did not advise her clients of her decision to trust the vendor’s solicitor to attend to the Deed of Assignment post settlement.  “As it turned out a fully executed Deed was achieved within six weeks of settlement, but it could have been longer or not achieved at all,” the committee said.

When Simpcox was advised of the possible need to lodge a claim for the driveway and paths with an insurance company, she referred the clients to the company.  (A claim was successfully lodged with the insurance company by the vendor of the property).

The committee said it did not accept that Simpcox failed to properly advise the clients regarding the private insurance claim.  Nor did the committee consider Simpcox took inadequate steps to protect the clients’ interests in providing effective assignment of EQC claims.

It therefore considered that Simpcox’s conduct did not warrant further disciplinary attention.

The committee, however, noted “with some consternation” that Simpcox became “somewhat less than helpful and rather blunt in her approach” upon receiving notification of the clients’ concerns.

“The committee considers that this aspect of conduct does not reflect well in circumstances where [Simpcox] would have been well served to be as helpful and considerate as possible to her clients, who found themselves in a difficult and upsetting position.”

The committee recommended that Simpcox apologise to her clients.

Last updated on the 2nd March 2018