4 Nov 2013

Client overcharged by hundreds of thousands, tribunal told

8:46 pm on 4 November 2013

A man says he has been left with no home and no money after an Auckland lawyer charged him more than $1 million for work worth less than half that.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, approached lawyer Eion Castles when he was not happy with progress on an existing legal case surrounding a leaky building he had bought in Remuera.

Mr Castles faces eight charges of misconduct, negligence or incompetence, brought by the Law Society.

Over three years, Mr Castles charged his client $1,030,000. The tribunal at the Auckland District Court was told that cost assessors estimated that the work was worth $436,000.

The man said he had sold his house and now had no home, no money and nothing to look forward to.

Acting on behalf of the Law Society, John Katz, QC, said some of the work took an unbelievable amount of time to complete, which defied any logical explanation.

For the defence, Brian Keene, QC, told the tribunal if Mr Castles had walked away from the leaky buildings case, the client would have lost even more money.

Mr Keene said the client should have known what rates he was paying and whether the costs were getting out of his control.

The reserved judgement will now be considered by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal panel.