Burmingham almost Stergious megafirm

The Supreme Court is pumping out notable decisions about lawyers at such a rate that I will have difficulty keeping up.  So I will start with the most titillating bit of the most interesting and most recent, Justice Byrne’s decision in Maurice B Pty Ltd v Burmingham [2009] VSC 20.

Mr Burmingham is not Mr Stergiou.  He described his background as:

‘a qualified chartered accountant with a wide array of outside interests including studying, working as a freelance cartoonist and illustrator, a  professional model, an actor and speechwriter, [who] excelled in singing and voice production … [and who]  previously enjoyed sports such as football, cricket, soccer, basketball, golf, baseball, tennis, swimming and athletics’.

But he was self-represented, he was dogged, and there was one absolute pearl amongst what Justice Byrne otherwise considered to be dross. Four and a half years into the proceeding, after the close of evidence in a trial which ended more than a year after it began, he pointed out that the costs agreement the incorporated mega-firm was suing on pre-dated its incorporation by almost a cool 3 years.  Lucky Justice Byrne granted it leave to amend its case, add the partners of the pre-incorporation practice as plaintiffs, and re-open its case to prove the assignment by the old partners to the new incorporated practice.  Presumably the reason the partners at the time of the costs agreement were joined as plaintiffs was against the contingency that the assignment could not be established, in which case the partners would presumably have been entitled to the fees up to the date of the incorporation of the legal practice which took over Mr Burmingham’s case.

Mr Burmingham’s neglignce claims against Maurice B Pty Ltd were not the first time he had claimed against former lawyers.

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