Slater and Gordon and its Trust Account obligations
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Ralph Blewitt was a sophisticated property investor with the independent means to buy an apartment, sight unseen, on the other side of Australia from where he lived. He was introduced to Slater and Gordon by its Industrial Unit partner Julia Gillard. Andrew Grech, the current managing director of Slater and Gordon (he was an employed lawyer in the firm at the time of the AWU Scandal) recently wrote that Julia Gillard acted directly for Ralph Blewitt in his purchase. of 1/85 Kerr Street.
Only Ralph wasn't really buying, Bruce the boyfriend was. Gillard's reputation with the firm was at stake, having introduced this business. She'd be keen to make sure that Ralph's money hit the firm's Trust Account exactly as planned - otherwise her partners might say she had bad judgement about people. She'd do her homework and make sure the money was there, surely.
On Monday, 11 March this year I posted this article substantially written by Spin Baby, Spin. Spin is a legal industry professional with distinctive competence in conveyance, mortgage and the management of money into and out of Trust Accounts in property and other commercial transactions. http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2013/03/for-all-those-who-operate-trust-accounts-in-victoria-and-for-those-who-can-remember.html?cid=6a0177444b0c2e970d017c3789d946970b
The next day I recorded an interview with Ralph Blewitt and posted a letter from a lawyer with copies of the law that regulated lawyers' trust accounts in the 1990s. http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2013/03/-a-letter-from-a-learned-friend-in-victoria-about-some-lawyers-trust-account-rules.html
Clearly, Slater and Gordon should have written out a receipt for $67K that hit its trust account as the proceeds of the AWU WRA cheque. I'm told that the bank transmits the drawer of the cheque in its TT and that the drawer of the cheque and the Slater and Gordon client account to whose benefit that money was applied should have been noted on the receipt. Spin Baby thought it significant that no receipt has surfaced, then or now, so did I - so Ralph undertook to write to Slater and Gordon and get a copy.
Spin Baby, Spin dropped this note a day or so ago
Spin Baby, Spin said:
NEW DEVELOPMENTS WE ANNOUNCE TODAY
Ralph wrote to Slater and Gordon's MD on 1 April this year.
Subject: FW: Request for Trust Account Receipts
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 2013 17:06:10 +0800
Subject: Your recent request.
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2013 02:52:43 +0000
I thought this sentence largely stood out.
Unfortunately it appears the firm largely no longer holds trust account receipts for the early 1990's given the expiration of time.
So Slater and G0rdon says that in 1994 it printed off copies of the Trust Account Ledger so it could include those copies in the file, which it then archived. At that time it was obliged to retain its Trust Account Receipts for the next 6 years , one year having expired.. It was obliged to create and issue a receipt for any money deposited in its Trust Account, showing who paid the money in and to which client account the monies were allocated. So if Slater and Gordon met its obligations in issuing Trust Account Receipts, presumably copies were filed with the conveyance file, that would be logical. Then, given the expiration of time, some one must have gone in and largely taken the trust account receipts out of the file - cause they're largely not there. But the Ledger is! More analysis on the General Ledger in a moment.
Now back t0 Mr Higgins of Slater and Gordon and his letter to Mr Blewitt. Here are Mr Higgins own words about the $67,000 cheque drawn on the AWU-WRA and deposited to Slater and Gordon's Trust Account.
"You are aware you deposited those funds at a Commonwealth Bank Branch in Western Australia. As previously advised to your lawyers there is no reference in your conveyance or mortgage file concerning where you sourced those funds."
I'll bet there's no reference to it! The file has been exhaustively screened to make sure there's no reference to it - I'm not suggesting subterfuge, rather that it has been scoured to find references to the drawer of the cheque. It would be a killer blow if Slater and Gordon had received from the Commonwealth Bank on its 1993 standard telegraphic transfer form the details of the drawer of the cheque that was negotiated into the Trust Account.
Higgins says "there is no reference in the conveyance or mortgage file concerning where you sourced those funds." There is also no copy in the conveyance file of the Trust Account. A receipt that if completed with all the information available would have noted the drawer, or owner of the cheque account from whence the funds came, and the Slater and Gordon account, Ralph Blewitt (no middle name) to whose benefit the money went.
Just for completeness, here is the Slater and Gordon conveyance file as sent to Ralph Blewitt last year by Slater and Gordon
And here is the Trust Account Ledger, printed off for inclusion in the conveyance file, but either not accompanied by the Receipts, or the Receipts were removed from the file after 7 years. It is interesting to see that where money did come from Ralph, it's recorded as RE & JA Blewitt, that is the drawer of the cheque. When the $67K hit the Trust Account for Bruce's house, it's recorded as coming from Mr Ralph Blewitt.http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2012/08/the-awu-scandal-the-slater-and-gordon-trust-account-general-ledger.html
Finally, there's one more major matter involving this file. The AWU under the leadership of Ian Cambridge subpoenaed from Slater and Gordon all its files and documents on the conveyance and mortgage for Kerr Street. As I note in the post below, what Ian Cambridge received and Exhibited to his Affidavit was a tiny fraction of the actual documents that were in the file. The late Geoff Shaw and Julia Gillard's mentor and former Socialist Forum Comrade Jon Rothfield are recorded on the front covers of the conveyance and mortgage files as being responsible for determining what documents were in and what were out in answer to the Federal Court's subpoena. Lots was out. And that includes the Trust Account Receipt for $67,000 which actually came from the Gillard created slush fund.http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2012/12/the-subpoena-to-slater-and-gordon-for-the-conveyancing-and-mortgage-files.html