The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered that David Porteous be struck from the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors.
The Hastings lawyer pleaded guilty to three charges of misconduct and two charges of unsatisfactory conduct.
Two of the misconduct charges involved unacceptable billing and file management practices in respect of two clients.
The third misconduct charge related to a different client and involved a breach of the trust account regulations by deducting dormant balances.
The unsatisfactory conduct charges involved rendering fees to the same two clients that were not fair and reasonable.
New Zealand Law Society vice-president Kathryn Beck says the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Trust Account) Regulations 2008 set strict rules for the handling of clients’ trust accounts which must be followed.
Beck says the rules of conduct and client care set guidelines to ensure many factors are taken into account in determining a reasonable fee in return for any service provided by a lawyer to a client.
“A lawyer must not charge a client more than what is fair and reasonable. To determine this, certain factors are taken into account such as time and labour, the importance, urgency and complexity of the work, the experience of the lawyer as well as whether it is fixed or conditional,” she says.
The Tribunal has also ordered Porteous to reduce his fees and refund the two clients $22,500 and $11,955 respectively.
Porteous was also ordered to pay $10,000 to the Law Society as a contribution to its costs.