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  • Solicitor banned for aiding trafficker
  • By Seamus Bradley
  • The Age
  • 21/09/2008 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: The Rooster ( 264 articles in 2008 )
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A WELL-KNOWN Melbourne solicitor has been disqualified from practising law for nine months after helping a convicted heroin trafficker to pose as a lawyer.

Issac Alexander Brott, who has practised for more than 30 years, pleaded guilty in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week to charges of misconduct and unsatisfactory conduct.

Brott is famous for lodging a complaint with the Bar Council that claimed that leading Melbourne barrister Peter Hayes QC was a drug addict. The complaint was lodged two years before the silk died 11 days after being found naked and unconscious in an Adelaide hotel room in May last year.

Brott later claimed the bar had refused to investigate.

There have been allegations that toxicology tests showed Mr Hayes had taken a cocktail of illegal drugs before his collapse, including heroin and cocaine. He was found by a Gypsy Joker Outlaw Motorcycle Club member. Two prostitutes in their 20s were allegedly in the room.

The charges against Brott included "permitting or assisting an unqualified person" to engage in legal practice in Victoria.

That charge relates to Xavier David Holden, who was sentenced in 1998 to 4½ years' jail for trafficking heroin, with a non-parole period of 2½ years. Holden's appeal against the conviction was dismissed.

VCAT found that Brott engaged Holden to perform duties in his legal practice for about two years, from early 2001 to early 2003.

Brott admitted that he permitted or helped Holden to engage in legal practice, including:

■ Signing letters prepared by the convicted drug trafficker.

■ Providing Holden with a business card that suggested the drug trafficker was a legal practitioner.

■ Receiving letters from Victorian Legal Aid containing Holden's name and details but not telling VLA that Holden was not a legal practitioner and not employed by Brott's practice.

■ Allowing Holden to deposit money received from Legal Aid into the legal practice's trust account and then paying identical amounts to a company owned by Holden.

■ Passing to Holden correspondence sent to the law firm.

■ Engaging Holden to perform tasks without adequate supervision.

■ Permitting or assisting Holden to use a letterhead similar to the letterhead of the law firm.

■ Paying counsel's fees out of the legal practice's trust account.

In a case taken against Brott by the Law Institute of Victoria, VCAT heard Holden operated a business, UCI Consulting, from offices on the third floor of 493-495 Little Bourke Street. Holden had access to Brott's offices on the building's second floor.

VCAT also found Brott guilty of a severe breach of his fiduciary duty to an elderly man who spoke little English and showed signs of advanced dementia. VCAT found Brott should have known the man, now dead, lacked the mental capacity to provide competent instructions in regard to $30,000 of his trust money. VCAT found that at least part of the money was inappropriately used for the benefit of the man's son. VCAT found the breach was "towards the worse end of misconduct".

Brott also faced a series of charges over irregular record keeping regarding the company's trust fund, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

VCAT vice-president Justice Iain Ross ordered that Brott may not apply for a practising certificate for nine months from the date of cancellation. He said the period of disqualification would have been a lot longer except for Brott's admissions and the agreement of the Law Institute of Victoria. Brott, who had costs awarded against him, can apply for a practising certificate in April next year.


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