New Zealand Law Society - Lawyer struck off for misappropriating funds and censured for obstruction

Lawyer struck off for misappropriating funds and censured for obstruction

Mr Jesse Seang Ty Nguy has been struck off by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal for the misapplication of funds held by him on trust.

Mr Nguy had admitted a charge of misconduct which related to the misappropriation trust funds in excess of $1 million. The holding of money on trust for clients is one of the fundamental obligations of lawyers. Consumers of legal services must be able to have their money held safely in solicitor’s trust accounts. Failure to do so also severely damages trust and confidence in the legal profession.

The Tribunal also made a finding of misconduct in respect of a second charge related to the obstruction and frustration of the investigative processes of the Standards Committee. The Tribunal stated “..these obstructive behaviours are serious and worthy of notice. The targeted conduct is a breach of the practitioner’s duties. Dealing with obstructive behaviour wastes money and time which puts other practitioners to unnecessary expense. These are not trivial defaults and cannot simply be ignored.”

Mr Nguy did not attend the hearing. Previously, Mr Nguy had sought to avoid compulsory strike-off by inviting the Law Society  to remove him from the roll on the basis that being a lawyer was stressful and “medically perilous”. However, that was unsuccessful.

The Tribunal also rejected the proposition that Mr Nguy was medically unable to participate in the proceedings saying “On balance, considering the medical evidence against other indicators of Mr Nguy’s competence, we find his proposition that he is unable to participate in these proceedings is self-serving and cynical.”

Mr Nguy was censured on the obstruction charge, struck off on the misappropriation charge and ordered to pay costs. All other names have been suppressed.

Mr Nguy had been suspended on an interim basis by the Tribunal in March 2021, pending determination of the charges.

The decision will be released on the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal website in due course.