New Zealand Law Society - Lawyers Complaints Service: Censured for estate administration failures

Lawyers Complaints Service: Censured for estate administration failures

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Hamilton lawyer John Campion has been censured for unsatisfactory conduct by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal in [2014] NZLCDT 85.

Mr Campion had provided various legal services to a husband and wife, Mr and Mrs D. Mr D died just over three years after his wife. Mr Campion was the trustee and executor of Mr and Mrs D’s estates. Mr D was the co-trustee and co-executor of Mrs D’s estate until his death.

Mr Campion admitted a charge, which included allegations that he:

  • incorrectly recorded payments from the estate to Mr D;
  • failed to bank cheques after Mr D died, causing loss to the estate;
  • failed to communicate adequately with Mr and Mrs D’s two daughters;
  • failed to provide annual trust account statements to the two daughters;
  • failed to close Mr D’s visa account when he died;
  • continued after Mrs D died to make entries into joint ledgers he had administered in the names of Mr and Mrs D while they were alive; and
  • failed to complete a transaction that Mr D entered into to purchase a licence to occupy a unit in a retirement village, despite releasing the settlement funds, with the result that title in the unit did not transfer to Mr D.

Mr Campion and the Manawatu Standards Committee reached a resolution of the charges, which the Tribunal approved.

The resolution provided that Mr Campion would admit one of two charges he faced on the basis of unsatisfactory conduct, that he undertook to pay Mr and Mrs D’s two daughters $10,000 and that the committee would seek to withdraw the second charge Mr Campion faced.

As well as approving the proposal, the Tribunal ordered that Mr Campion be censured, that he take advice on the management of his practice from a person approved by the New Zealand Law Society for 12 months and that he pay any costs associated with the order. Mr Campion was also ordered to pay the Law Society $15,000 standards committee costs and $2,172 Tribunal costs.

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