CBA and Gadens at centre of conflict of interest dispute in federal court

by Mackenzie McCarty18 Mar 2013

CBA and Gadens law firm Sydney-based barrister are at the centre of major conflict of interest allegations by an aggrieved bank customer, according to News Ltd.

Geoff Shannon, who is locked in a legal battle with the CBA’s BankWest over the collapse of his property development company, claims he was cross-examined in the federal court last month by a barrister who had acted for him in related matters in 2010.

According to Shannon, the barrister had confidential information relating to his personal and business affairs, telling reporters the barrister’s sister worked at the law firm he was using.

"I sent her my documents and chronology and I have emails confirming that the barrister now acting against me was briefed. It was the furthest thing from my mind that a barrister who worked for me would go and work for the other side. I believe the whole BankWest case is now tainted.

Shannon says he’d never met the barrister face-to-face until being cross-examined in the federal court last month, where he was ‘surprised’ by the detailed nature of the questioning.

"It all came together when I woke up early one morning, about 3am, and realised what had happened. I never delete any emails, so I went straight to my iPad, punched in the names and there it all was."

In response to a series of emailed questions sent by News Ltd, a CBA spokesman said the bank did not believe there was any conflict. Asked why, he said it was a matter for the barrister, who has not been named for legal reasons.

Shannon and BankWest are in a dispute over the collapse of Shannon’s company, 33 Electra, which in 2008 was the developer of a doomed $14.5 million residential project, funded by BankWest, on the north coast of NSW, with both parties claiming the other was initially responsible for breeching the finance agreement.