Lawyer guilty of misconduct after 'grossly excessive' charging

By Brendan Manning

Eion Castles charged more than $1 million to help sort out a leaky building problem. Photo / Dean Purcell
Eion Castles charged more than $1 million to help sort out a leaky building problem. Photo / Dean Purcell

A lawyer accused of overcharging a former golfing buddy by almost $600,000 has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.

Eion Castles faced the disciplinary tribunal after he charged the man, with whom he played golf at Titirangi Golf Club, $1,030,000 - well above the $436,000 cost assessors estimated his work would have cost to help sort out legal problems created by the client's leaky Remuera home.

In a recently released decision, the tribunal found Castles' charges were "grossly excessive''.

"A fair and reasonable fee in relation to all three proceedings would have been $462,000, inclusive of GST and disbursements. As a result the practitioner is guilty of professional misconduct.''

The tribunal found that in his first two weeks of work, Castles charged his former golfing buddy more than he had been charged by his former solicitors, who were also working on legal action arising from his leaky home, over a period of two years.

Castles was found guilty of five charges relating to gross overcharging, general conduct and serious failures in professional standards. Three other charges were dismissed.

His penalty has yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, another recently released tribunal decision stated the reasoning for striking off a lawyer who was found guilty of misconduct in October.

Evgeny Orlov was struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors, in part because of unfounded allegations he made against High Court judge Rhys Harrison in 2008.

Orlov stated Justice Harrison's attitude and statements showed an apparent bias "not only against me but against the political beliefs that I hold''.

The tribunal's decision stated that in the course of his five-day hearing before the tribunal Orlov used "extravagant and insulting language'', compared the tribunal to the Spanish Inquisition and a Stalinist show trial, and accused it of creating an atmosphere that existed in Nazi Germany.

"His approach was vexatious, insolent and provocative,'' the tribunal's decision stated.

Orlov previously represented former Zion Wildlife Garden operator Patricia Busch during a long-running feud between her and her son, `Lion Man' Craig Busch.

- APNZ

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