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Failure to pay Standards Committee costs and fine

30 March 2017

A former lawyer, C, who did not complete paying a fine and costs for more than three years was guilty of unsatisfactory conduct, a standards committee has found.

In May 2012, a standards committee found unsatisfactory conduct against C, who was practising at that time. The committee ordered C and her firm to jointly and severally pay a fine of $1,000 and $2,000 costs by 3 June 2012.

C’s firm applied to the Legal Complaints Review Officer for a review of that determination. The LCRO in June 2013 confirmed the standards committee decision. It ordered C and her firm to pay the Law Society $1,200 costs in respect of the review undertaken.

Between July 2013 and March 2016 the Law Society attempted to contact C about paying the fine and costs orders multiple times by email and telephone. In that period, C made seven payments totalling $2,195 of the $4,200 owing the Law Society. The last of these payments was made in early June 2015.

The matter was referred to another standards committee in May 2016 and that committee conducted an “own motion” investigation.

The committee said that it considered costs must be paid within a reasonable time. “Unless there are good reasons for a practitioner to have delayed payment, practitioners ought to comply with orders against them promptly,” the committee said.

It also noted that the “primary purpose of costs orders under the Act is to defray the costs of administering the complaints and disciplinary provisions of the legislation, which otherwise fall on all lawyers”.

On 1 August 2016, C paid the outstanding amount of $2,005.

Given that C was no longer practising law in New Zealand, that she had expressed contrition for failing to comply with the orders, and that she paid the sum in full once the matter had been referred to a standards committee, the committee said it considered a finding of unsatisfactory conduct was sufficient penalty. It ordered her to pay $500 costs.

Last updated on the 30th March 2017