Thursday 18 July 2013

Brown and Albarran parted by conflict concerns

Etienne Lawyers' chairman Steven Brown
Etienne Lawyers chairman Steven Brown has ceded representation of regular clients Richard Albarran and Blair Pleash to a rival firm. 

A change of solicitor notice filed in the NSW Supreme Court shows that the Hall Chadwick insolvency duo are now relying on Hicksons Lawyers to defend them in a stoush with a disgruntled creditor.

In a statement of claim filed in October 2012, Albarran and Pleash are accused of managing the affairs of a company subject to a Deed of Company Arrangement (DoCA) in a manner prejudicial to creditors.

Among other things, the plaintiffs claim Albarran and Pleash breached their fiduciary duty by allowing Etienne - the deed administrators' legal advisers - to amass $790,000 in legal fees.

Albarran and Pleash - and Etienne for that matter - reject the allegations, arguing the more than $1.4 million in combined legal, administrator and other fees incurred over a three year period result from the failure of the company's warring creditors to agree to a solution.

The matter is set down for directions in August and when the time comes, Albarran and Pleash will have to get used to having a newcomer in their corner.

Brown has had Albarran’s back in some tight spots in the past. In 2009 he saved the Hall Chadwick high-flyer from bankruptcy, convincing a judge to allow Albarran to pay a $1.6 million judgement debt in instalments.

The final payment – owed to Hellier Capital’s Graham Hellier - was reportedly due in February this year.

But with Etienne’s fees at the heart of this latest row, Brown has chosen to eliminate the possibility of a conflict or perception of conflict by relinquishing the gig.

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