Christchurch lawyer Susan Barbara Lewis has been suspended from practice as both a barrister and a solicitor for six months with effect from 26 May 2015.
The suspension has been imposed by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal which found Ms Lewis guilty of unsatisfactory conduct. She has also been ordered to pay costs totalling $9,378.50 to the New Zealand Law Society.
While acting for a party in Family Court proceedings, Ms Lewis filed a memorandum in court which contained incorrect information. The memorandum dealt with parenting arrangements for a child of the parties to the proceedings. It was incorrect and misled the Court into making an order which later had to be rescinded.
The Tribunal found that Ms Lewis believed the memorandum was correct, but was wrong to do so. It was concerned that Ms Lewis had displayed conduct not dissimilar to the conduct referred to in earlier adverse disciplinary findings against her. It concluded that she had yet to learn from her past errors and mistakes and that suspension was the appropriate penalty.
“The overriding duty of a lawyer is as an officer of the court,” New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore says.
“There is a fundamental expectation in our justice system that lawyers will take the utmost care to never put incorrect information before the courts.”