Acting Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Lawyer censured, fined for notes failing

The law standards committee was concerned that the lawyer continued to express a belief that file notes were unnecessary. Photo / iStock
The law standards committee was concerned that the lawyer continued to express a belief that file notes were unnecessary. Photo / iStock

A lawyer who said he "does not believe" in file notes "astounded" a judge and has been censured for sub-standard record keeping and acting where there was a conflict of interest.

The lawyer, who is unnamed in a recent law standards committee decision summary, was also fined $1500 by it.

The committee launched an investigation after the judge in question forwarded it on a copy of his ruling.

In that decision, the judge said:

"What is his explanation for the absence of any file notes? [The lawyer] says 'he does not believe in them' and that 'they can be easily concocted after the event'. I am astounded by his evidence on this point and his self-justification for his practice."

The lawyer, according to the standards committee, told it he did not recall saying that he did not believe in file notes.

The case the lawyer was involved in related to a $50,000 deposit used to buy a residential property.

The committee said that the judge had raised concerns about the lawyer's decision to act despite a risk of a conflict of interest.

The lawyer's position, the judge said, was "compromised to a degree by the various interests he is serving" and that "there are obvious conflicts of interest which, when combined with the lack of file notes, suggest his evidence should be the subject of careful scrutiny," according to the standards committee.

The standards committee was concerned that the lawyer continued to express a belief that file notes were unnecessary.

The lawyer's record keeping was "inadequate" and the committee said he had "not maintained proper professional standards in this regard".

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 06 Dec 2016 20:07:01 Processing Time: 550ms