A solicitor based in Manukau has been censured and fined $5,000 after admitting a negligence charge before the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
Johannes Franciscus Van Noort was charged with negligence or incompetence in his professional capacity of such a degree as to reflect on fitness to practise or as to bring the profession into disrepute.
Mr Van Noort’s negligence came about when he entered into a lease agreement with clients in respect of their small farm property, in which he was to embark on a wine growing enterprise.
He breached Rule 5.4.3 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 which expressly prohibits a lawyer from acting for a client in any transaction in which the lawyer has an interest.
The matter was contentious and the interests of the practitioner and his clients did not correspond in every respect.
Although the Disciplinary Tribunal said Mr Van Noort was hopelessly conflicted and should have known it, there was no dishonesty and he had resolved all issues with his former clients.
Along with the censure and fine, the Tribunal ordered Mr Van Noort to pay $20,000 costs to the New Zealand Law Society and reimburse hearing costs of $6,743.