New Zealand Law Society - Lawyers Complaints Service: Fined for insulting Police prosecutor

Lawyers Complaints Service: Fined for insulting Police prosecutor

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A lawyer, B, has been censured and fined $500 by a lawyers standards committee for insulting a Police prosecutor in a District Court. The committee also ordered B to apologise to the Police Sergeant in writing, with a copy to be sent to the committee.

The complaint was made to the Law Society by the Police Prosecution Service. It stated that B had, three times in succession, made a comment that the Police prosecutor was lying and also used two swear words. The complaint was not made by the prosecutor himself.

The complaint stated that B apologised when the prosecutor sought an apology, but it was not considered to be a sincere apology.

In his response to the committee about the complaint, B acknowledged that he had made the statement and repeated it three times in succession.

He advised that he immediately regretted his comments and apologised straight away. He said that his apology was sincere and that it was not until he received a Police letter that he was aware that his apology was not accepted as such.

B told the committee that he accepted that his comments were inappropriate and abusive and, in explanation, said they were “in the heat of battle”. He agreed that the comments were a breach of the ethical standards that would be expected of a solicitor and officer of the court.

The committee said it noted that B had apologised in writing via the committee at the first opportunity.

The committee found that B had breached rule 10 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008. Rule 10 states that: “A lawyer must promote and maintain proper standards of professionalism in the lawyer’s dealings”.

The committee determined that B’s actions constituted unsatisfactory conduct. As well as ordering the censure, fine and apology, the committee ordered B to pay the Law Society $500 costs.

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