New Zealand Law Society - Charges dismissed against Carole Smith

Charges dismissed against Carole Smith

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The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has dismissed charges against former Auckland lawyer Carole Smith after she was charged with misconduct, and alternative charges of negligence or unsatisfactory conduct.

A New Zealand Law Society standards committee alleged Ms Smith breached a High Court Charging Order by means of a share transfer. It also alleged that the effect of the transfer was to defeat the Charging Order.

The order was made in enforcement proceedings arising out of a relationship property dispute.

Ms Smith did not act as counsel during the relationship property proceedings and she had limited knowledge thereof.

Ms Smith represented the husband in relation to commercial interests and various trusts and she was aware of the terms of the Charging Order.

The Charging Order charged the beneficial interests of the husband in various entities.

The Tribunal accepted the evidence of Ms Smith that the husband held the shares that were transferred allegedly in breach of the order as a bare trustee only. The husband did not have a beneficial interest in the shares and thus the Charging Order was not technically breached, the Tribunal found. 

The Tribunal dismissed an application by the Standards Committee to amend the charges to allege Ms Smith breached the spirit and intent of the Charging Order.


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