Auckland lawyer Eion Malcolm James Castles has been struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal, according to the New Zealand Law Society.
Castles was found guilty of three charges of professional misconduct, one of conduct unbecoming and one of negligence and incompetence of such a degree as to reflect on his fitness to practise or tend to bring his profession into disrepute.
The tribunal found the charges proved on 4 November 2013. It ordered him to be struck off following a penalty hearing today.
The tribunal found Castles guilty of gross overcharging for rendering fees of $943,721.54 when a fair and reasonable fee was only $462,000.
In addition to striking him off the roll, the tribunal made censure, fine, compensation and costs orders as well as an order that he apologise to his former clients. Castles was ordered to reduce his fees to $462,000 and refund his former clients $482,721.
New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore said Castles had breached two of the fundamental obligations which all lawyers were required to uphold.
“Lawyers provide expert professional services and advice and the resulting fees can be substantial. Mr Castles has let the legal profession down by his gross overcharging and also by failing to communicate clearly and openly with his clients,” said Moore.
“Anyone who engages a lawyer is entitled to expect that they will be accorded respect and courtesy. The tribunal has delivered a strong message about the standards which are expected of the legal profession. New Zealanders can be confident that the vast majority of our lawyers meet those standards and that the Law Society will continue to protect the users of legal services.”