The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has censured and suspended Michael Rawiri Taia for 9 months. The suspension commenced 1 December 2020.
Mr Taia admitted all three charges that were brought in the Tribunal. One was for unsatisfactory conduct for failing to rectify an e-dealing issue in a timely fashion. Another was misconduct for failing to comply with an investigator’s request for access to a client’s file. The third was misconduct for failing to comply with a costs order.
A Lawyers Standards Committee referred Mr Taia’s case to the Tribunal to determine whether the offending reached the threshold for misconduct. The Tribunal, administered by the Ministry of Justice, is the only body able to determine whether a lawyer’s offending reaches the threshold of misconduct and order suspension as a penalty.
The Tribunal observed that “A common theme running through all three charges is Mr Taia’s failure to engage in a timely manner, whether with another practitioner, the Standards Committee or the Law Society. This default is exacerbated by his multiple prevarications, fobbing off with promises that remain unperformed.”
Mr Taia was also ordered to make his practice available for inspection and ordered to pay costs of $19,005.
The Tribunal declined Mr Taia’s application for name suppression, commenting that “at heart, these charges carry a message about distinctive business traits of Mr Taia. If he were to carry on practising law, publication would be strongly desirable so that other practitioners and members of the public could assess those characteristics that emerge. If we suppress these matters from other sectors of the community, it does not speak well of the integrity of the legal profession.”