The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has censured a lawyer and ordered permanent name suppression after finding him guilty of unsatisfactory conduct.
In addition to the censuring, the Tribunal fined the lawyer $3000 and ordered he pay the New Zealand Law Society costs of $7500 and reimburse hearing costs of $6126.
The lawyer acted in circumstances where he was conflicted and unable to discharge his obligations owed to each of three clients.
The lawyer acted for a client in the client’s personal capacity in the purchase of a property. The lawyer had also acted for that client in other matters in that client’s capacity as an executor and trustee of a deceased estate. That had included the purchase by the estate of a residential property, which was held in the client’s name but pursuant to his capacity as executor and trustee of the estate.
In the personal purchase, the lawyer received two sets of instructions from the bank that was providing finance and for whom the lawyer was also acting for in the transaction. The first was to attend to a mortgage security over the property in question. The second was to complete a collateral security sought by the bank over the estate property that was in the name of the client.
Although the lawyer referred the executor of the estate to seek independent advice about the use of estate property as security for a personal purchase, he continued to act for the bank throughout the transaction. The lawyer did not advise the bank of the nature of the client’s ownership of the estate property being used as security.The Tribunal found that there was no loss to any person and there was no dishonesty on the part of the lawyer.