The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered that Peter Francis Aitken be struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors.
The charge was heard in the specialist Courts and Tribunal centre, Auckland, 19 March 2020.
The decision for striking off related to the practitioner misappropriating client funds insofar that the misconduct charge “would reasonably be regarded by lawyers of good standing as disgraceful or dishonourable” as set out in s7 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006.
The charge addressed the ongoing dishonest management of a client’s trust account. Mr Aitken used $265,000 from a trust account towards a purchase of a personal property without the clients’ authority.
Mr Aitken had also consistently overdrawn the Firm’s Interest in Trust Ledger, utilising clients’ trust funds to meet the financial obligations of his firm.
In its decision, the Tribunal attested considerable credit to Mr Aitken for accepting the charge as accurate and true.
The Tribunal also noted Mr Aitken had been under “considerable stress and been professionally overloaded” and his voluntary statement to Law Society inspectors in 2019 that his actions were “tantamount to fraud.”
Mr Aitken was ordered to reimburse the Tribunal costs which were $16,350.