Abuse victim takes on Commissioner in Victoria's Supreme Court

Shimon Walles takes his fight for justice to the top

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After a lengthy and taxing fight for justice, a Melbourne man takes his David Vs Goliath fight to Victoria's Supreme Court.

Along with several other classmates, Shimon Walles suffered terrible abuse at the hands of a perpetrator between 1989 and 1991. Still, it wasn't until years later that he would seek legal compensation for the crimes.

After the offender was convicted and given a custodial sentence, Mr Walles sought litigation through Holding Redlich's law firm.

"I never had any intention at all to seek compensation. It was not even something I knew that existed. I was just happy to help with the investigation, which I did," Mr Walles said.

"But then in 2014, I was left without a choice, due to personal reasons and for reasons I don't really want to go into, but I had to make a civil litigation against the institution, which I did for that historical abuse.

"So I approached a law firm, they represented me for ... just under three months and the case settled ... and a half-day mediation, but the law firm that had represented me, they withheld all of the compensation in their trust."

Mr Walles said he felt that he was being intimidated when he was allegedly told he needed to sign authorities which amounted to eight times the original costed agreement.

"They said if you don't sign these authorities, which we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, the original cost agreement said $30,000 for them to settle my matter at mediation.

"I said, 'look, that's what the cost agreement says, can we just stick to that?'"

Mr Walles said he was told that he had to sign the documents, and the firm held on to his compensation for over a year, sending him post-dated bills without disclosures.

"If a law firm wants to charge you, they can charge, but they have to give you prior knowledge, and they have to get your consent. That's what disclosures are," he said.

"It's very specific, in terms of the legislation, and there's a reason for that because victims and people that are vulnerable don't know what the law is. They need to be made aware as to why they're being charged and on what basis. And it has to be in detail, and it has to be with consent.

"I was never provided those disclosures."

While his complaint was initially closed by the legal services commissioner, Mr Walles is now awaiting an outcome from the Supreme Court.

"At the end of the day, this is something that should concern everybody; this is a matter of public interest," he said.

"The commissioner is there getting paid $300,000 a year of taxpayers funded money, there to protect us. They're not there for their own benefit, and they're not there to protect lawyers.

"If the commissioner themselves are not upholding the law, we have a serious problem. I'm within my rights and I'm standing up for my own rights."

Rebel News contacted Holding Redlich for comment, the firm responded that it 'does not comment on confidential client matters'.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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