An "incompetent" lawyer who provided "woeful" service to his client and is considered a risk to the public has been suspended from practising for two-and-a-half years.
The Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has released a scathing penalty decision against Auckland lawyer Jinyue (Paul) Young.
Tribunal deputy chairman Judge John Adams does not hold back, labelling Young seriously "unprofessional, negligent and incompetent".
"The level of his deficiencies demonstrated a 'paucity of pertinent skills that reflects on his fitness to practise'."
But Young has hit back, telling the Herald the decision is unfair.
He has little money but plans to appeal if the court will waive the application fee.
The decision relates to a complaint by Mr Z, a Chinese client who Young agreed to act for on a family law litigation matter.
Young, who is 64 and studied law as a mature student, had little expertise in family law and was "out of his depth", according to the tribunal decision.
"Although aware of his lack of experience in the area, Mr Young chose to act for the client with disadvantageous results. His conduct shows a fundamental lack of understanding about his role and his professional obligations to his client and to the court."
Young effectively concealed from his employer that he had taken on the client, by interviewing Mr Z at Young's home and making other "grave errors".
"Mr Young kept no proper file, his advice was incompetent, his drafting of documents inadequate, his representation of the client in court was woeful."
He advised Mr Z not to disclose to the court the existence of certain relevant bank accounts.
And Young's failure to cross-examine Mr Z's wife at a defended dissolution hearing proved "fatal to any prospect of success".
The tribunal did not accept Young's explanation that he had offered only a "limited service" to Mr Z, "by which he meant that he would not read all the papers and would simply say whatever the client wanted him to say".
"We cannot accept the view that legal services as limited and incompetent as those performed by Mr Young could ever amount to acceptable professional standards.
"Mr Young shows no real insight and accepts no responsibility."
The decision also says Young tried to persuade Mr Z and his lawyer to withdraw a Law Society complaint, in breach of his professional obligations.
"Given his lack of expertise and his concealing of the brief from his employer, his attitude discourages us from considering any prospect of his being safely able to practise in the foreseeable future."
The tribunal was surprised to learn Young was now pursuing Mr Z for unpaid legal fees in the Disputes Tribunal.
"Mr Young's pursuit of Mr Z fails to acknowledge that his legal services were not truly worth a fee because of his incompetence and the resultant issues that Mr Z was left with."
At the penalty hearing Young continued to argue Mr Z received good service and a "good result" thanks to his work - claiming he had been "falsely accused".
But the tribunal stressed that if Young wished to challenge earlier tribunal findings against him the proper course was an appeal to the High Court.
"His inability to comprehend this important, fundamental structure, adds to our concern about his ability to recognise quite basic features of legal process, of which the disciplinary process is a straightforward example."
The decision cited Young's previous disciplinary history as an aggravating feature.
He was suspended by the tribunal for 15 months in 2018 and ordered to pay $45,000 after being found guilty of misconduct and negligence amid claims of "incoherence, confusion and lack of understanding... of proper process".
The latest decision says there were similarities with the current case, including "unsubstantiated allegations" that the tribunal and Standards Committee were racially biased and that legal counsel representing the tribunal were pursuing a "grudge" against Young.
The tribunal ruled there were no mitigating factors. Though the Standards Committee called for Young to be struck off, the tribunal said a suspension of two-and-a-half years was sufficient to protect the public.
"Mr Young's professional failings demonstrated from this one file are comprehensive, entrenched and there is no sign of his developing insight that would offer hope for a better performance.
"We would be concerned about the risk to the public were he free to practise at the present time. Although he lacks insight, and has demonstrated wide-ranging deficiencies, on the limited basis of this one file we are not inclined to strike him off."
Young was ordered to pay costs of $43,647 and instructed to drop his pursuit of fees against Mr Z.
Young told the Herald he had successfully assisted Mr Z to get half the value of a property following a marriage break up.
He only charged $21,000 for his services but had not received a cent.
Young denied any misconduct but said he had no plans to continue practising law.