Frederick William Baker has been struck from the roll of barristers and solicitors for misusing client funds.
The Auckland-based lawyer, who admitted to having used funds from his firm’s trust account to pay firm debt, apologised to the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal and took full responsibility for his actions, the Law Society said.
The Law Society also said that Baker failed to maintain trust account records and transferred funds from the firm’s interest in trust ledger when funds were not available, leading to several overdrafts.
“A law firm’s trust account must be a completely safe repository for the money of its clients. It must never be overdrawn or even be at the risk of being overdrawn,” Law Society President Kathryn Beck said.
“No client lost money as a result of Mr. Baker’s actions. However, the Law Society has strict rules for operation of trust accounts and all lawyers and law firms who operate one must submit monthly reports and keep relevant records,” she said. “A lawyer who intentionally falsifies reports or receipts or does not comply with any of the trust accounting rules is committing a gross breach of trust. There is absolutely no room for that in the New Zealand legal profession.”