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.