Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Lawyer censured for disregarding client on $120,000 settlement

Law Society president Chris Moore.
Law Society president Chris Moore.

An Auckland lawyer has been censured for disregarding a client's instructions and "devising" a way for a $120,000 settlement to go ahead, the Law Society says.

Grant Donald Richard Shand was disciplined by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal after he admitted a charge of negligence or incompetence in his professional capacity of such a degree as to tend to bring the profession into disrepute.

The charge arose when a client of Mr Shand initially accepted a settlement offer of $120,000 in cash and $30,000 in instalments, but then changed his mind and told Mr Shand he wanted to reject the offer, Law Society president Chris Moore said.

"Mr Shand devised a way to make the settlement proposal work and - although he persuaded himself he was acting within his instructions - he settled the matter without clearing it with his client. This was a surprise to his client, who thought he had rejected the settlement offer."

The tribunal censured Mr Shand and ordered that he pay $1900 of compensation, legal costs of $16,508 and hearing costs of $3369.

Mr Moore said it was a cardinal rule for all lawyers that they kept their clients fully informed and maintained a relationship of confidence and trust.

"The Lawyers Conduct and Client Care Rules state that the professional judgement of a lawyer must always be exercised within the professional obligations of the lawyer solely for the benefit of the client," he said.


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