Min and Alan Williams count their blessings in spite of
health and financial woes.
An Auckland man who paid a former golfing buddy hundreds
of thousands of dollars in "grossly" overcharged legal fees
says the ordeal has cost him health and almost everything he
Alan Wilson, 71, and his wife Min, 67, sold their home,
business and other belongings to pay lawyer Eion Castles more
than $1 million to sort out a dispute over a leaky home.
But Mr Castles charged them almost $600,000 too much. He
billed them $1,030,000, well above the $436,000 cost
assessors estimated his work would have cost.
Mr Castles was found guilty of overcharging, struck off the
Law Society register, and ordered to repay the money.
However, Mr Wilson, speaking for the first time about the
case, isn't confident of getting any money back because Mr
Castles was declared bankrupt after the hearing.
"As far as we're concerned we're not in a good place at all,"
Mr Wilson said yesterday.
The small two-bedroom cottage in Northcote is a long way from
the family home in Remuera they sold to pay for the legal
"We've sold a lot of stuff and we're going to have to sell
more because the chances of getting a house that will
accommodate all the stuff we have in storage and around the
place is not very likely."
They'd had "five or six years into knowing we'd been duped"
but were still devastated by what had happened.
"It's certainly taken its toll on both of us. My wife
continues to work which is not a situation we want at all ...
we're not where we should be ... I attribute the fact I have
cancer to the whole problem."
He got sick after the money problems began in 2009 and says
the stress of losing things he and his wife had worked hard
for had contributed to his ill-health.
Despite all that he tried not to be angry.
"I'm bitterly disappointed in what we thought was a
friendship collapsing ... We try not to be angry, it's not
healthy to be angry, but it's very difficult to move on now
we have some finality and know there's no good way out of
Mr Wilson told the Herald he had been given a death sentence
"I might last five years, I might last one but my wife enjoys
great health and will probably go on for a long time but just
not on much money."
The couple were trying instead to concentrate on what they
did have and enjoy it.
"We have the support of our family and wonderful friends who
have done amazing things for us and are so grateful for
A group of close friends set up a givealittle page after the
Wilsons were left with virtually nothing. One of the friends
who set up the page, who asked not to be named, helped them
start the legal battle once he and his wife realised the
amount they were being charged was too high.
"We smelled it ... and we said that's wrong, and they still
had $11,000 to pay and they had nothing."
About $8400 had been raised by yesterday and the friend hoped
for more. "What we would love to get is enough money to buy
them a small unit to live in."
To donate: http://www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/minalan