The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has suspended Hamilton lawyer Helen Monckton from legal practice for one month from 1 September 2014.
Monckton pleaded guilty to a charge of negligence in her professional capacity of such a degree as to reflect on her fitness to practise or as to bring her profession into disrepute.
The tribunal decision said Monckton acted or purported to act for multiple parties to a property transaction in breach of the Lawyers Conduct and Client Care Rules
provisions for conflict of interest.
The tribunal found she made a number of serious errors by relying on an assurance from her client without checking its veracity, not verifying the right to exercise a power of attorney, and failing to be certain that interested parties were aware of the situation.
The tribunal considered that the negligence was relatively serious and censured Monckton as well as suspending her from practice
. She was also ordered to provide a written apology to the complainant and undertaking training, as well as being required to pay up to $10,000 to rectify her errors.
New Zealand Law Society national prosecutions manager Mark Treleaven said the decision demonstrated how essential it was for lawyers to carefully check every aspect of their work.
“While it found Ms Monckton had made some serious errors, the tribunal also took into account her previous unblemished record of 34 years as a lawyer and the fact that she is normally an extremely careful lawyer who works hard for her clients,” he says.