New Zealand Law Society - 2021


Charging clients for Landonline licence fees is unsatisfactory conduct

A standards committee has sanctioned a lawyer who charged his clients $10 as a contribution to his firm’s Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) licence fee, describing it as a “disbursement”. The committee was satisfied that the $10 LINZ licence fee was not a payment to a third…

Failure to declare matters that might affect eligibility to hold a practising certificate

Renewing a practicing certificate without disclosing that an application for bankruptcy had been served on him has resulted in a lawyer being ordered to pay a $3000 fine and costs of $1000. The standards committee noted that lawyers have an ongoing obligation to advise the New Zealand Law Society |…

Failure to respond to fellow lawyer found to be unsatisfactory conduct

A lawyer (Lawyer B) who neglected to respond to another lawyer’s repeated requests for an update on the sale of shares belonging to an estate was found to have engaged in unsatisfactory conduct.

Penalising clients who make complaints “misguided”

The principal of a law firm has been ordered to undergo training on his professional obligations after a Standards Committee determined that he had breached Rule 10 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008. The firm had a section in its terms of engagement…

Delayed invoices found to be unsatisfactory conduct

Long delays in issuing invoices to a client have resulted in a finding of unsatisfactory conduct, a Standards Committee has determined. The Standards Committee considered that the complaint served “as a useful reminder of the need to issue invoices in a timely manner so that clients are aware of their…

Lawyer had no right to register caveat to secure payment for his fees

A Standards Committee has held that a lawyer looking to get payment for his fees did not have the right to register a caveat against land owned by a debtor. The lawyer also had not issued an invoice for the unpaid fees.

Caveats on property deemed to be unlawful

Lawyers are reminded that caveats on property can only be registered in very limited circumstances. A recent decision of a Standards Committee held that registering a caveat to exert leverage in advancing a Family Protection Act claim was improper. Lodging the caveat in those circumstances amounted to unsatisfactory conduct by…

Failing to call a witness found to be unsatisfactory conduct

A Standards Committee has determined unsatisfactory conduct on the part of a lawyer who failed to call a witness on behalf of their client. The witness’ testimony may have assisted their client’s defence in a criminal trial. The client successfully appealed their conviction on the basis of trial counsel error.

Duty to disclose information to clients

Criminal lawyer’s poor representation of his client

A lawyer’s representation of his client in a criminal case has been found by a Standards Committee to have fallen short of the standards expected of a reasonably competent lawyer.