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Failure to comply with Standards Committee directions

02 May 2017

A lawyer has been fined $2,500 for repeated failure to comply with written directions of a standards committee.

The lawyer, D, failed to comply with the committee’s mandatory directions in three consecutive instances. D’s compliance was only secured when the committee appointed a New Zealand Law Society inspector as an investigator.

The committee was investigating two virtually identical complaints about D’s conduct in administering an estate in which the complainants held beneficial interests. No response to the complaints was provided by the lawyer.

The committee was concerned about the state of, and standard of, administration of the estate and resolved to require D to produce all files relating to the complaints within a set timeframe.

The documents were still not provided two weeks later despite two further letters requiring D to produce his files. The committee decided to appoint the inspector as an investigator. D met with the inspector and advised that he still could not find the file, but that he had put what he could find electronically into a folder which he handed to the inspector.

As a result of D’s “serial failures to comply with the committee’s directions”, the committee decided to begin an “own motion” investigation.

The committee found unsatisfactory conduct on D’s part.

“It is a fundamental obligation of a lawyer to comply with directions or requirements of the standards committee enquiring into a complaint or investigating a matter concerning his/her conduct,” the committee said.

In his submission to the committee, D acknowledged his default and apologised to the committee for the delay and his ultimate inability to locate the documents.

As well as the unsatisfactory conduct finding and the fine, the committee ordered D to pay $1,000 costs.

Last updated on the 2nd June 2017