A former Wellington solicitor who fabricated information on legal documents has been suspended from practice for four months.
Andrew Pine self-reported his misconduct; which included inserting a false date on a family trust deed, fabricating witness details on two authority and instructions forms, and failing to obtain legitimate authority and instruction forms before certifying an electronic mortgage instrument with Land Information New Zealand.
The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal suspended him from practicing for four months from last Friday.
Speaking to NZLawyer
, the society’s national prosecutions manager Mark Treleaven said the fact Pine self-reported his misconduct was “excellent”.
“Often we don’t find out about dishonest lawyers until a complaint is made against them.
“Obviously dishonesty is something that needs to be dealt with promptly, so if a lawyer’s done something terrible and self-reports it, we can process it and discipline the lawyer much quicker.”
While the tribunal considered that a 12-month suspension was appropriate, it took into account Pine’s self-imposed suspension since he ceased employment on 21 October 2014.
The suspension served as a reminder for other New Zealand lawyers, Treleaven said.
“Honesty is absolutely paramount in the legal profession and if you commit dishonest acts then you will be disciplined for it; and suffer severe disciplinary sanctions.”
The written reasons for the tribunal’s decision have been reserved.
Pine was ordered to pay $6,400 in costs to the Law Society and to reimburse the hearing costs of the Tribunal.