New Zealand Law Society - An obligation to treat lawyers and others with respect and courtesy

An obligation to treat lawyers and others with respect and courtesy

A Standards Committee has determined that a lawyer breached Rules 10, 10.1 and 12 by failing to treat others with respect and courtesy, constituting unsatisfactory conduct 

The lawyer, L, acted for Ms A in a property relationship matter. He wrote to the lawyer for Ms A’s former husband, M, saying that Ms A had been the victim of conspiring professional advisors who had failed to act in her best interests, and then named the individuals concerned. M expressed concern about the remarks but L later repeated them. It was not until a complaint was made against him that he apologised to one of the lawyers concerned. He informed the Lawyers Complaints Service that he intended to speak to the other professionals he had maligned but later admitted that he had not done so. 

The Committee considered that L had acted in a manner inconsistent with Rule 10 and that his comments regarding another lawyer were a breach of Rule 10.1. It further determined that he had failed to conduct dealings with others with integrity, respect, and courtesy, thereby also breaching Rule 12. 

The Committee censured L and ordered him to send a letter of apology to two of the people he had criticisedHe was also ordered to pay fines of $2,000 and $500 costs to the New Zealand Law Society.