RSL law firms lock horns

A LAW firm representing a woman trying to sue the Townsville RSL Club over its members’ draw prize acted for the club for more than 90 years until last December.

RSL’s current representation Donnie Harris Law has applied for Roberts Nehmer McKee Lawyers to be removed as Suzanne Woods’ counsel, arguing the firm has a conflict of interest.

Ms Woods’ lawyers filed a statement of claim with the Townsville District Court in February stating she went to Lavarack’s Restaurant on December 2 to enter the $27,000 prize draw.

Ms Woods claims her name was drawn at 7pm but the club allegedly “failed to announce in the restaurant the name”, which was a “breach” of the draw conditions.

Lawyers for Townsville RSL have filed a defence, denying that any conditions were breached.

Townsville RSL general manager Karla Malouf has lodged an affidavit with the court, saying Roberts Nehmer McKee Lawyers was told in December that its retainer to act for the club had been terminated after 93 years.

“At the time of filing the statement of claim, Roberts Nehmer McKee Lawyers still held various safe custody documents, archived and current, filed on behalf of the defendant,” she wrote.

Emails between the law firm and Donnie Harris Law were included with the affidavit. On March 3, Donnie Harris wrote to the firm, requesting it cease acting for Ms Woods.

“We are instructed that it was your firm that drafted the terms and conditions of the game which are relevant in the proceedings currently commenced by the plaintiff,” he wrote.

Roberts Nehmer McKee Lawyers managing partner Philip Askin replied to the email on March 6, saying there was no conflict of interest. He wrote that his firm had initially written to Townsville RSL on December 16 and had received correspondence from Donnie Harris Law several times in December and February.

“Throughout the entire course of this correspondence and the pleadings to date, your client has not raised any allegation of conflict of interest,” he wrote.

“To raise this now calls into question the bona fides of your client in doing so.”

Donnie Harris filed an affidavit with the court on May 30, saying he had written to Roberts Nehmer McKee Lawyers partner Malcolm Fisher to request an affidavit that outlined the chain of custody of the 73 files relating to Townsville RSL.

He wrote that Mr Fisher replied the request was “unreasonable”.

The matter has been adjourned for hearing on a date to be set.

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