New Zealand Law Society - Tribunal orders fine, censure and costs for misconduct in business dealing unconnected to legal services

Tribunal orders fine, censure and costs for misconduct in business dealing unconnected to legal services

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has made an order for a fine, censure and costs against Auckland lawyer Quentin Duff. 

The Tribunal's decision on liability has been publishedThis follows the Tribunal’s decision of 2 September 2021, which found that Mr Duff had engaged in misconduct in relation to his role in a business dealing, which was unconnected with his legal services.

The Tribunal’s penalty order, made by the Tribunal on 20 December 2021, fined Mr Duff $10,000, censured him and also ordered him to pay costs of $32,920 to the New Zealand Law Society (made up of: reimbursement of costs to the Law Society of $9345.00 and Standards Committee costs of $23,575.00).

Mr Duff also gave an undertaking not to commence any directorship of any company without the prior approval of the Chair of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal; to have the accounts of his chambers supervised; and to retain an accountant at all times to oversee and ensure his personal and Chambers’ taxation obligations.

The Tribunal declined to suspend the practitioner. In doing so, it took into account his exemplary references, and the fact that in working in jury criminal trials in South Auckland, Mr Duff was one of the few senior barristers active in this area of practice.  The Tribunal also recognised Mr Duff’s mentoring of young lawyers, including Māori and Pacific lawyers. Acknowledging these mitigating factors, the Tribunal stated “in summary, these are not the usual character references but rather, describe a practitioner who is a real rarity in the profession.”

It concluded: “Notwithstanding the findings in our liability decision our overall assessment of the practitioner is that he is indeed a fit and proper person to practise, and that to prevent him from doing so would risk a serious loss to his clients and employees alike.”

Footnote/General Background:

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Committee is an independent body which operates like a court and is administered by the Ministry of Justice.  It is separate from the New Zealand Law Society.