Ed Sullivan, solicitor and former South Cantebury Finance director has had his practising certificate suspended for three years and ordered to pay more than $35,000 to the Law Society.
Sullivan has been convicted on five charges linked to the failed finance company, related to a family trust and two estates.
The lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal found that Sullivan failed to meet a requirement to distribute assets before its expiry. The tribunal said that Sullivan admitted his administration of a couple’s family trust and estates was negligent and incompetent, and that his actions were unprofessional.
The family trust and estates had been substantially repaid, Stuff
The tribunal had considerable concern over the fact that Sullivan indicated he visited his former law firm’s office one day a week and maintained contact with former clients as trustee or executor. The tribunal stated that he was in denial about his convictions, which meant he could not continue to practise as if nothing had changed.
Despite building up a very good reputation in the industry, the tribunal found that his actions hand undermined public confidence in the profession.
Back in 2009, Sullivan was found guilty of professional misconduct for taking fees a client had told him not to. In 2013, he failed to comply with rules about signing of authorities for investments, on a client’s behalf.
The tribunal considered him to be on the cusp of strike-off and was ordered to pay over $35,000 in reimbursement costs to the Law Society. His practising certificate was suspended for three years but as he is retired, he vowed not to apply for a certificate again.
Sullivan’s lawyer, Pip Hall QC, told the tribunal that he had spent more than $2m defending fraud charges relating to the South Canterbury Finance firm and had depleted his retirement savings, suggesting that he pay less than full costs. But the tribunal said he could earn income from his continued trust involvements.