A bogus Gold Coast lawyer, who is said to have lost more than $ 430,000 in client money, has been banned from running a law firm and is under investigation by police.
- Gold Coast woman Nerise Dawn Moore will have to pay legal services commissioner fees after being banned from running a law firm
- Queensland Supreme Court ruled she was posing as a lawyer but was unqualified
- Over $ 430,000 missing from trust account at former law firm Mudgeeraba, Stenton and Moore
Nerise Dawn Moore, who previously ran the Mudgeeraba law firm known as Stenton and Moore, has been disqualified by the Queensland Supreme Court from running a company which is a law firm.
Last week’s judgment came after a lawsuit was brought by the Commissioner of Legal Services against the woman for claiming to be a lawyer for about four years.
Moore, former chairman of the Mudgeeraba Chamber of Commerce, caught the attention of the Queensland Law Society two years ago.
Mingled with politicians
Moore is portrayed in social media posts with a number of Australian politicians, most notably with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2015 and McPherson Federal Member Karen Andrews in 2016.
Moore had operated the Gold Coast law firm since 2014, initially with Graham Stenton, who was a lawyer.
Moore introduced herself to the company’s “managing director” and after Mr. Stenton left the firm in 2018, she called herself a “chief legal officer” – although she is not a lawyer.
The judgment released Friday said Moore had, since 2014, provided legal advice to clients “while posing as a qualified lawyer.”
Issue of false homologation
Moore worked alone for most of that time, but in 2018 she falsely “engineered” a scheme to claim that notorious Gold Coast lawyer Blake Fraser was the firm’s director of legal practice, according to the judgement.
Mr Fraser told the CBA he had no idea Moore claimed to have worked with her and was unaware of being “appointed” as the firm’s director of legal practice between June and August 2018.
Moore later granted probate to a client, but never applied to court.
“The copy of the probate document Ms. Moore provided to her clients appears to have been fabricated using a previous probate grant issued … for an unrelated estate,” Judge Martin Burns said.
Case referred to police
Some $ 433,690 in trust money was missing from the company account and the court found “no evidence that anyone other than Ms. Moore was the cause … of the trust account failure.”
More than 40 clients then filed for compensation, according to the judgment.
In April of last year, Moore pleaded guilty to practicing a legal profession when she was not entitled to it and was fined $ 5,000.
The issue of the missing trust money had now been referred to the Queensland Police Department for investigation, according to the judgment.
Forbidden to “put an end to similar behavior”
“For a long time, she presented herself as qualified to provide legal advice to clients of the practice, and claimed to provide such advice, although she was unqualified,” Judge Burns said.
In the scathing judgment, Judge Burns found that Moore had “ignored” the legal requirements for trust accounts and had engaged in “serious wrongdoing in connection with an estate.”
He said without the disqualification there was a “real likelihood” that Moore “would engage in similar behavior in the future.”
Moore engaged in “deplorable” conduct
Gold Coast adviser Glenn Tozer, who made a statement to QPS about Moore’s conduct, said there would be members of the Mudgeeraba community who would be “happy the matter has been settled by the Supreme Court “.
Moore was ordered to pay the costs of the Legal Services Commissioner and did not attend the hearing.
She was contacted for comment but did not respond.