New Zealand Law Society - Lawyers Complaints Service: Censured for not apologising when ordered to

Lawyers Complaints Service: Censured for not apologising when ordered to

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Christchurch barrister Christopher Bradleigh Persson has been censured by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal for failing to provide an apology to a prosecutor, as ordered by a lawyers standards committee.

The Police Prosecutions Service complained that Mr Persson had repeatedly interrupted a prosecutor’s attempt to review facts and had stated that the prosecutor was not telling the truth in regard to the circumstances.

The standards committee found Mr Persson’s behaviour was unsatisfactory conduct in that such conduct would be regarded by lawyers of good standing as being unacceptable.

The committee determined that although an apology had been made in a letter to the committee, a more formal apology directly to the prosecutor concerned was required and directed Mr Persson to do so. The time limit for the apology to be made was 30 May 2013.

By letter dated 17 June 2013, emailed to the Law Society on 19 June 2013, Mr Persson forwarded what he purported to be an apology.

The standards committee replied to Mr Persson, advising that it had considered the terms and content of the apology and resolved that it was not adequate and did not meet the requirements of the committee’s determination. The committee sought a further draft apology, but no further correspondence was forthcoming.

In [2014] NZLCDT 73, Tribunal said that the parties had been able to resolve the matter. “There followed an acknowledgement of unsatisfactory conduct on the part of the practitioner with consequential orders.”

As well as the censure, the Tribunal ordered that Mr Persson “deliver a formal apology in terms that acknowledge and accept the determination of the standards committee and otherwise unreservedly apologises”. It also ordered Mr Persson to contribute $5,000 to the standards committee costs and pay the Law Society $5,162 Tribunal costs.

In [2015] NZLCDT 1, the Tribunal declined to make a final order for name suppression.

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