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Former solicitor suspended from practising law for three years

16 May 2016

A former Timaru solicitor has been suspended from practising law for three years, censured and ordered to pay costs of $35,378.84 to the New Zealand Law Society.

Edward Oral Sullivan admitted charges in two prosecutions heard by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal, on 29 April and 13 May.

The first case related to the administration of a family trust and the estates of a married couple. Mr Sullivan admitted charges of negligence or incompetence of such a degree 'as to reflect on his fitness to practise or as to tend to bring the profession into disrepute'.

In the second case, he admitted he had been convicted in the Timaru High Court of four charges of making a false statement as a promoter and one charge of obtaining by deception in respect of his role in the collapse of South Canterbury Finance Limited. That resulted in a sentence of 12 months home detention and 400 hours of community service.

The Tribunal suspended Mr Sullivan for three years, censured him and ordered him to pay costs to the New Zealand Law Society.  It noted his retirement from practice and his undertaking that he would never again apply for a practising certificate.

The Tribunal said it was not the first time Mr Sullivan had been before it on serious charges.

In 2009, he was found guilty of professional misconduct in relation to authorising the taking of fees contrary to specific directions from client. And in 2013 he was found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct for failing to comply with rules relating to the signing of authorities for the investment of funds on behalf of clients.

Mr Sullivan was censured on both occasions, fined and ordered to pay compensation and costs.

The Tribunal noted that the combination of the two matters before it and Mr Sullivan's previous disciplinary record meant he was "on the cusp of a strike off".

New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck says the Tribunal has sent a strong message that this sort of offending has no place in the legal profession and will not be tolerated.

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Last updated on the 16th May 2016