New Zealand Law Society - 2021

2021

Failure to provide regular invoices

Misapplication of funds

No breach by lawyer, but important to clarify responsibilities with clients

A property transaction which almost failed to proceed due to a shortfall in funds is a reminder to lawyers of the need to clarify their responsibilities with clients. The Standards Committee found that in this case the lawyer had not breached their obligations, as it was the client’s responsibility to…

Criminal lawyer’s poor representation of his client

A lawyer’s representation of his client in a criminal case has been found by a Standards Committee to have fallen short of the standards expected of a reasonably competent lawyer.

Duty to disclose information to clients

Lawyer had no right to register caveat to secure payment for his fees

A Standards Committee has held that a lawyer looking to get payment for his fees did not have the right to register a caveat against land owned by a debtor. The lawyer also had not issued an invoice for the unpaid fees.

Caveats on property deemed to be unlawful

Lawyers are reminded that caveats on property can only be registered in very limited circumstances. A recent decision of a Standards Committee held that registering a caveat to exert leverage in advancing a Family Protection Act claim was improper. Lodging the caveat in those circumstances amounted to unsatisfactory conduct by…

Failing to call a witness found to be unsatisfactory conduct

A Standards Committee has determined unsatisfactory conduct on the part of a lawyer who failed to call a witness on behalf of their client. The witness’ testimony may have assisted their client’s defence in a criminal trial. The client successfully appealed their conviction on the basis of trial counsel error.

Delayed invoices found to be unsatisfactory conduct

Long delays in issuing invoices to a client have resulted in a finding of unsatisfactory conduct, a Standards Committee has determined. The Standards Committee considered that the complaint served “as a useful reminder of the need to issue invoices in a timely manner so that clients are aware of their…

Penalising clients who make complaints “misguided”

The principal of a law firm has been ordered to undergo training on his professional obligations after a Standards Committee determined that he had breached Rule 10 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008. The firm had a section in its terms of engagement…
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