Former lawyer suspended for twelve months from legal practice

by NZ Lawyer05 May 2014
The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has suspended Robert Barry Whale from practice as a barrister and solicitor for twelve months for signing security prospectuses that contained untrue statements.

Whale was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1970 but does not currently hold a practising certificate.

The tribunal has also ordered Whale to pay the costs of the New Zealand Law Society, which had charged him with having been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment, a  conviction which brings his profession into disrepute.

Whale admitted the charge.

The criminal convictions were Securities Act offences committed when he was a director of Dominion Holdings Finance Ltd and its subsidiaries Dominion Finance Group Ltd and North South Finance Ltd.

As a director of an issuer of securities, Whale was convicted of four offences for signing registered prospectuses that were distributed and which included untrue statements. As a director of an issuer of securities he was also convicted of three offences for distributing an advertisement that included untrue statements.

New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore said the High Court found that Whale’s conduct amounted to “gross negligence” and he had admitted that he had not read the prospectuses before signing them.

“Our securities laws are there to protect the public and to keep investors fully informed. The public is entitled to expect that members of the legal profession will perform to a high standard and ensure that protection is maintained,” he said.