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Auckland barrister suspended

06 April 2017

Francisc Catalin Deliu was suspended for 15 months from 1 February 2017.

In three decisions ([2016] NZLCDT 25, 26 and 27), the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal found Mr Deliu guilty of six charges of misconduct, one charge of unprofessional conduct, one charge of unsatisfactory conduct, and one charge of conduct unbecoming a lawyer.

The misconduct charges related to a series of allegations Mr Deliu made between 2008 and 2010 about two High Court Judges.

These six offences involved “excessive, disgraceful and baseless attacks on Judges made in provocative and intemperate language, and for the purposes of protecting the practitioner’s own interests,” the Tribunal said.

“The accusations included allegations of discrimination and racism by the Judges towards both counsel and clients, and corruption in carrying out their duties.”

The Tribunal said it considered the unsupported allegation of judicial corruption to be “very serious” misconduct.

“The ‘incompetence charges’ arose from litigation files where the practitioner acted for various parties over 2008 and 2009, straddling the 1982 and 2006 Acts,” the Tribunal said. “The practitioner was found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct in relation to the earlier set of matters, and the lesser unsatisfactory conduct in relation to the later set of matters.”

In relation to actions under the Law Practitioners Act 1982, there were five examples of incompetent workmanship from one case and seven from another, over a short time span.

In relation to actions under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, 21 particulars were alleged over five cases, between August 2008 and February 2009. Twenty were found proved.

There was a “clear pattern of incompetent actions” over a confined period, the Tribunal said.

The charge of conduct unbecoming a practitioner arose from Mr Deliu attending, uninvited, a Complaints Committee meeting while acting as counsel for a colleague.

Mr Deliu refused to leave when requested. He and his client interrupted, shouted at and made demands of the committee to such an extent that they caused the meeting to be adjourned.

“While this may not seem particularly serious, we do not consider it to be behaviour by lawyers that can be tolerated, particularly in the context of the disciplinary process,” the Tribunal said.

The Tribunal said it had “seriously considered” striking Mr Deliu off. However, the required unanimity could not be achieved.

“The Tribunal considered that strike off was open on the basis of the repetitive, persistent and quite outrageous conduct in relation to the Judges’ charges. The totality of the conduct and the practitioner’s response to the charges have called into question whether he is a fit and proper person to practise as a lawyer,” it said.

However, the Tribunal said it recognised that Mr Deliu had ability and a firm commitment to justice.

“We recognise any time out from his practice will be a hardship to those who depend on him. He has promised these matters will not happen again.

“We consider he deserves a second chance, particularly in the circumstances when the matters which have brought him before this Tribunal are largely historical. We were pleased to see for the first time a more reflective approach from the practitioner in his penalty submissions, in particular his expressions of regret and, albeit rather last minute, letters of apology for his behaviour.”

As well as suspending Mr Deliu, the Tribunal ordered him to pay a $153,500 contribution to the standards committee costs of $165,921 and a $108,500 contribution towards the Tribunal costs of $117,426.

Mr Deliu has filed an appeal against the Tribunal’s substantive decisions.

Last updated on the 6th April 2017