New Zealand Law Society - 2023


E-Dealing certification process: lawyers’ duty to ensure certifications are true and correct

A Standards Committee concluded that a lawyer certified and signed a notice of claim instrument in circumstances where one of the certifications was not true and correct.  It determined that was unsatisfactory conduct. The Standards Committee ordered the lawyer to pay a fine of $4,000 and costs of $1,000.

Report From Court Registrar

A Standards Committee opened an inquiry into the conduct of a lawyer following a report from a court registrar.  Ultimately, with the lawyer not renewing his practising certificate and winding up his practice, the Standards Committee took no further action.

Knowingly providing false information

A Standards Committee has made a finding of unsatisfactory conduct against an employed lawyer for sending false and misleading information in a letter to option holders who had deposited option fees into the trust account operated by the employed lawyer’s firm. The letter was sent after the lawyer had released…

Discussions of sensitive issues with potentially vulnerable clients require careful management

A Standards Committee considered that a lawyer made an error of judgement in the way he discussed intimate material with his client. The lawyer discussed the material at length with the client (who said she had previously been sexually abused) in an unscheduled phone call after he had left the office. However,…

Failure to inform and comply with employment law obligations unsatisfactory conduct

Where an employer lawyer was found to have breached provisions of employment legislation in respect of their employee by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) and the Employment Court (EmpC), a Standards Committee (Committee) has found that same conduct to be unsatisfactory conduct. The Committee censured the lawyer and ordered them…

Failure to ensure correspondence is professional, respectful and courteous held to be unsatisfactory conduct

A lawyer sent disrespectful and discourteous correspondence that made the recipients feel unsafe and harassed, over a period of months, continuing despite written concerns and requests for it to stop. A Standards Committee (Committee) determined that was unsatisfactory conduct, censured the lawyer and ordered them to pay a fine and costs.

Threatening judge with a complaint to Judicial Conduct Authority to secure rescheduled hearing unsatisfactory conduct

A Standards Committee found a lawyer’s conduct towards a judge (Judge A), in demanding a hearing be rescheduled, and threatening to make a complaint about Judge A, to be unsatisfactory. The Committee concluded the lawyer had behaved unprofessionally, disrespectfully and discourteously and, in doing so, undermined the processes of the…

Unsatisfactory conduct for lawyer filing documents alleging fraud in IPONZ proceedings

A Standards Committee found a lawyer guilty of unsatisfactory conduct for breaching the rules relating to the reputation of other parties, in the context of proceedings before the IPONZ Hearings Office. The Committee censured and fined the lawyer and ordered them to pay costs.

Billing client after pro bono arrangement agreed

A Standards Committee has found that a lawyer engaged in unsatisfactory conduct when he invoiced his client despite an agreement to work pro bono.  The Committee fined him $1,000 and ordered him to pay $500 in costs.

Intoxicated Partner sending text messages to employee late at night which ‘contained a sexual connotation’, found to be unsatisfactory conduct

A lawyer, after drinking heavily, sent multiple text messages with an ‘inappropriate sexual tone’ and made at least 16 accompanying call attempts to an employee of the firm where they are a Partner late at night. A Standards Committee (Committee) determined that this was unsatisfactory conduct, and ordered them to…
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