New Zealand Law Society - Duty of candour when making a Section 30 application

Duty of candour when making a Section 30 application

A Standards Committee has determined that the conduct of two directors of a firm who failed to disclose a disciplinary matter in their applications to practise on their own account, was unsatisfactory. Each director was ordered to pay $250 in costs.

At the time of their applications, the two directors were the subject of a complaint made to a licensing body. The licensing body determined that while they had technically breached the terms of the relevant legislation, that the breach had been inadvertent and that, at the time of the investigation, the practitioners were not subject to the licensing body’s jurisdiction.

Given this outcome, the practitioners maintained that they had not been subject to any disciplinary action in another profession. They had debated whether to disclose the matter in their section 30 application but, because the complaint had not been determined at the time they made the application, they had decided against it.

The Committee, in its decision, stated that it was not for the practitioners to determine whether the issue was relevant, and that applicants who seek special practising status from their professional body should demonstrate the utmost candour. It is then for their professional body, with all potentially relevant information before it, to decide the weighting to be attached to each factor.

The Committee also considered that it could not overlook the close connection between the subject-matter of the complaint and the practitioners’ intentions as practitioners.

The practitioners were subject to a duty of utmost candour, and they failed to discharge that duty. In the Committee’s view that was unsatisfactory conduct. They were ordered to each pay $250 in costs to the Law Society.

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