Well-known liquidator and columnist Damien Grant is fighting in court to overturn a decision stopping him from continuing his insolvency career because of character grounds.
The Restructuring, Insolvency and Turnaround Association New Zealand (Ritanz) deemed Grant to not be a "fit and proper person" when it declined his application for a licence in May.
While in his 20s, Grant served prison time for fraud and credit card offences, the last of which he was convicted of in 1994.
The Ritanz application came about due to new laws coming into effect this year which require insolvency practitioners to hold a licence with an accredited organisation.
The regulation means Grant, who is not a chartered accountant, will not be able to continue as a insolvency practitioner without a licence.
Grant has operated his business Waterstone Insolvency since 2006 and began in the industry when there were not such limits on the profession.
While in prison Grant furthered his studies and completed a bachelor of commerce after his release.
Today, in the High Court at Auckland, Grant and his lawyers challenged Ritanz's decision during a judicial review before Justice Matthew Muir.
Several of Grant's supporters were in the courtroom for the day-long hearing, while other high-profile people - such as former politician Dr Don Brash - had written affidavits in support of Grant's bid.
Justice Muir said it was not for him to determine if Grant's character met the requirements of Ritanz but rather if its panel had conducted the process lawfully.
The judge said there was also the potential reputational impacts to an organisation such as Ritanz if a person with perceived character flaws was included.
"Clearly there will be people out there in the community [that will be opposed] to allow a liquidator who has committed serious fraud," he said.
"Liquidators have a terribly important role in our society."
Grant's lawyer Bob Hollyman QC replied: "You can't please everyone, but this is not a popularity contest."
There was no indication Grant had been dishonest or offended since becoming a liquidator and has been "politically active" in a positive way by writing newspaper columns, the court heard from Hollyman.
Ritanz's lawyer Stephen Hunter QC said the organisation had a legitimate interest in controlling its membership and was entitled to carry out a character assessment.
Justice Muir said the issues of rehabilitation, remorse and reform were "deeply troubling" and he considered it a "very difficult case".
"I think the panel was faced with an extremely difficult job on this one," he said.
Justice Muir has reserved his decision.