A former legal adviser to the Taupo District Council, Chris Gilbert, has won his bid to be a lawyer again, 12 years after being struck off for misappropriating funds.

The New Zealand Law Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal has decided to reinstate him, despite objections from three lawyers and two branches of the Law Society.

A copy of the finding said the six-member tribunal unanimously decided to grant Mr Gilbert his request, but warned him there would be no third chances.

He was struck off in July 1992 following a finding of misconduct while working for a Rotorua legal firm.

He admitted charges of misappropriating nearly $44,000 from a client in 1987 and 1988.

Mr Gilbert applied to be restored to the law practitioners' roll following an offer from the Christchurch City Council to work as its legal services manager.

A prerequisite of the job was to hold a current practising certificate.

The council was aware that Mr Gilbert had been struck off in 1992 but maintained that he was the best candidate for the job.

Among those who supported his application were Taupo mayor Clayton Stent and three lawyers.

Three other lawyers opposed his application, saying any lawyer struck off for dishonesty should remain struck off forever.

The Waikato/Bay of Plenty District Law Society argued Mr Gilbert was "not a fit and proper person" to be a lawyer.

The society said in an affidavit that in 1994 Mr Gilbert witnessed two land transfer documents, signing as a solicitor, despite being struck off two years earlier.

The action resulted in a district court prosecution on two charges. Mr Gilbert was discharged without conviction on both counts, but had to pay costs of $2500.

The Otago District Law Society also objected, saying the gravity of Mr Gilbert's offending made him unsuitable for reinstatement.

In giving its finding, the tribunal said Mr Gilbert should note that it was concerned about the 1994 incident, but it felt there had been "genuine reformation and rehabilitation" on his part.

The conditions of his reinstatement include that he not be employed as a solicitor other than by the Christchurch City Council without permission from the tribunal.

He was ordered to pay the society just over $4000 in costs for the tribunal hearing.

- NZPA