Hamilton barrister and solicitor John Campion has been censured by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal after failure to fully comply with a lawyers standards committee order.
The tribunal found that Mr Campion's inaction on the matter amounted to misconduct.
Mr Campion was ordered by the standards committee on 14 September 2012 to refund fees charged to a client in the sum of $15,191.57. He sought a review of the decision by the Legal Complaints Review Officer and that decision, confirming the standards committee order, was received on 1 March 2016.
There were considerable delays in Mr Campion's repayments and the sum owing was never paid in full, with $2,171 still outstanding at the date of the tribunal hearing.
"It is clear that Mr Campion has adopted an ostrich-like approach to this dilemma in which he finds himself," the tribunal said.
"It is also clear that Mr Campion has not addressed the important professional obligations that he has, to abide an order of his professional body, and as a result has found himself facing a serious charge before the tribunal, right at the end of his career."
The tribunal noted that Mr Campion had faced health problems which had impacted on his ability to earn income, but said his lack of remorse and failure to prioritise his professional obligations did him no credit.
As well as imposing a censure, the tribunal ordered Mr Campion to pay the New Zealand Law Society costs of $12,184 and to reimburse hearing costs of $1,863. The order for repayment of $2,171 was confirmed and compensation of $1,161 was awarded to his former clients for legal fees incurred by them in attempting to recover the awarded sum.