New Zealand Law Society - Francisc Catalin Deliu suspended from practice for 15 months

Francisc Catalin Deliu suspended from practice for 15 months

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The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered Auckland barrister Francisc Catalin Deliu to be suspended from practice for a period of 15 months effective from 1 February 2017.

The suspension was imposed after the tribunal found Mr Deliu guilty of six charges of professional misconduct, one charge of unprofessional conduct, one charge of unsatisfactory conduct, and one charge of conduct unbecoming a practitioner.

The professional misconduct charges related to a series of allegations between 2008 and 2010 about two High Court Justices. The tribunal said the six offences involved excessive, disgraceful and baseless attacks on Judges made in provocative and intemperate language, and for the purposes of protecting the practitioner’s own interests.

The charges of unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory conduct arose from Mr Deliu’s actions on behalf of various parties in 2008 and 2009. The tribunal said there was a clear pattern of incompetent actions over a confined period.

The charge of conduct unbecoming a practitioner stemmed from Mr Deliu’s uninvited appearance at a Complaints Committee meeting when he refused to leave when requested and interrupted, shouted at and made demands of the Committee, causing the meeting to be adjourned. The tribunal said while this might not seem particularly serious, it was not behaviour by lawyers that could be tolerated particularly in the context of the disciplinary process.

The tribunal said it had seriously considered striking Mr Deliu off the roll, as was requested by the two lawyers standards committees which brought the proceedings. However, the tribunal was unable to come to a unanimous decision on this as required.

“The tribunal considered that strike off was open on the basis of the repetitive, persistent and quite outrageous conduct in relation to the Judges’ charges. The totality of the conduct and the practitioner’s response to the charges have called into question whether he is a fit and proper person to practise as a lawyer,” it said.

However, the tribunal recognised that Mr Deliu had ability and a firm commitment to justice. It recognised that any time out from his practice would be hardship to those depending on him, and he had promised that these matters would not happen again.

“We consider he deserves a second chance, particularly in the circumstances when the matters which have brought him before this tribunal are largely historical,” it said.

In addition to suspending Mr Deliu, the tribunal ordered him to pay New Zealand Law Society costs of $153,500 and a contribution of $108,500 towards the costs of the tribunal hearing of $117,426.

Mr Deliu has filed an appeal in relation to the substantive decision of the tribunal and this is set down for a hearing in late March 2017.