Lawyer 'cost me my day in court'

By Joanne Carroll

Quake lawyer accused of settling against client's wishes.

Grant Shand. Photo / Michael Craig
Grant Shand. Photo / Michael Craig

A lawyer is before the legal profession's disciplinary body for allegedly settling a client's claim without his permission. Grant Shand is now running his own law firm and the Herald on Sunday reported last month he has more earthquake clients than any other lawyer in Christchurch.

It is alleged he settled a claim against his client's wishes when he was a partner with leaky home specialists Grimshaw & Co.

Marton man Bruce Campbell said Shand worked on his case against a financial broker in 2008.

Campbell was making a claim against the broker for advising him to invest in the Blue Chip property scheme, which later collapsed.

"My wife got terminal cancer and I needed to look after my wife so I resigned from my job," said Campbell. "We needed to find a new house because my wife was in a wheelchair so we sold up in Hawke's Bay.

"At the time, I didn't make enough money to get a good home in Wanganui.

I was about $10,000 short. All my available money had been spent on my wife's medication. I wanted her to get the best chance.

"The bank wouldn't lend me money because I was a caregiver and our income was about $15,000," he said. "I went to a broker and he came back and told me I could get the money through a Blue Chip scheme. It worked for 12 months and then it collapsed.

"I had two mortgages that I had to surrender. I lost everything."

Campbell's wife, Alison, died in April 2006.

After ringing Grimshaw, Campbell claimed Shand told him he had a strong case.

"He took the case on a contingency fee, so if I didn't win he wouldn't get paid. He told me the claim was worth up to half a million dollars. It took ages to get the case into the High Court.

"We had a conference in the Wanganui High Court and they found out the guy I was suing didn't have the right kind of insurance."

Campbell said he believed Shand had lost interest in the case. Despite this, Campbell kept pushing it because he wanted to go to court.

The broker made an offer to settle but Campbell felt the amount offered was nothing compared with what he had lost.

Three days before the case was to be heard in April last year, Campbell was told by Grimshaw lawyer Michael Wolff that a higher settlement had been offered. He warned him of the risks and costs of going to court if he lost.

"I made a spur-of-the-moment decision and said yes. But after I talked to my daughter and my partner about it, I rang him back about 10 minutes later and I said no, I don't want to settle," he said.

Wolff passed on the message but Shand settled the case anyway, Campbell said. "I was just shocked. I was just bloody physically distraught. I told him I had told Michael Wolff I didn't want to settle."

Campbell said he was told by Shand that he had arranged the settlement on his behalf.

"He said if I didn't sign the settlement papers I would get nothing. So I signed them but I have lodged a complaint to the Law Society."

Campbell believes Shand's actions cost him his day in court.

The complaint is being referred to the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal. Shand refused to comment as the complaint was "going through the process".

- Herald on Sunday

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