Auckland lawyer Vicki Lee Pomeroy has been fined $5,000 and censured by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
The Tribunal found Ms Pomeroy guilty of unsatisfactory conduct in October 2019 for failing to comply with a request by a New Zealand Law Society lawyers standards committee to produce for inspection her file in relation to a client.
In deciding on an appropriate penalty, the Tribunal noted that an unusual feature was that the conduct forming the basis of the underlying complaint the committee was investigating did not form part of the charge before the Tribunal. Rather, the charge focused on Ms Pomeroy’s approach to the investigation of the complaint by the committee.
While Ms Pomeroy held an honest belief about her refusal to supply the client file, the Tribunal found that she had a duty to communicate with her professional body and that her failure to do so was unsatisfactory.
“We find that Ms Pomeroy’s unsatisfactory conduct is at the lower end of the scale. The conduct was nevertheless not a minor or insignificant breach of Ms Pomeroy’s professional obligations. Ms Pomeroy failed to respond to requests from the committee over a long period. In doing so, she impeded the [Law] Society’s disciplinary processes which are important to the reputation and functioning of the profession,” it said.
The Tribunal considered that unsatisfactory conduct of this nature should result in a fine and censure. As well as a censure and a fine of $5,000, Ms Pomeroy is required to pay total costs of $11,472.