Just another failed regretted settlement case

In Wellington’s Case [2006] VCAT 2209, Mr Wellington’s teacher status as a tae kwon do expert apparently did not bear him in good stead when he was assaulted at his workplace. He thought his employer was to blame. He retained one of the big labor law firms to represent him in a challenge to Workcover’s refusal to pay him compensation. The man’s allegations were that the reason things had unravelled for him in cross-examination was that he had not been prepared properly for giving evidence, that incompetent counsel had been retained, and that his case had “not been properly prepared”. He had been “forced to settle” on a walk away basis on day 3 of his trial.

As in Stipanov v Mier, a young solicitor’s diligent file note taking did her firm proud, and she won every contest of evidence. Mr Wellington’s claim was tossed aside with the slightest ceremony, Mr Howell’s reasons for decision running to only 1,400 words. The clear implication of the decision is that Mr Wellington’s untruths were exposed by the solicitor’s contemporaneous written records.

Had the advocates’ immunity been claimed by the firm, they would no doubt have won on that basis by reference to Biggar v McLeod, but it was their prerogative to fight the case on the merits.

Nick Klooger was Counsel Assisting the Tribunal. Patrick Over was for the solicitor.

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