Christopher Twigley has been struck off from by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyances Disciplinary Tribunal.
The former Gisborne and Tauranga lawyer admitted six charges of misconduct, a report from the New Zealand Law Society
He has also been ordered to pay $15,000 in costs and a further $5,566 in hearing costs, but the fines were reduced because Twigley is currently bankrupt and on minimum wage.
Twigley’s striking off involved five separate client interactions and attendances. Furthermore, the Tribunal also heard of a sixth charge related to the disorderly state the former lawyer left his files and computer records when he wound down his practice and moved to Australia.
The disputed facts hearing resulted in a finding serious misconduct after aggravating matters were proven, the Law Society said.
“The overall picture is of a man desperately fighting to save his practice and his career and in doing so taking a number of shortcuts and steps that were focused more on his financial viability than on his clients’ interests or deeds,” said the Tribunal.
The Tribunal found it was only appropriate to strike off the lawyer and decided a lesser penalty would not be an proportionate response.
“The protection of lawyers’ clients is paramount and in this case the lawyer seems to have been reckless in how he acted in a number of matters. A very high standard of care and conduct is expected from all lawyers and the focus must always be on the interests of their clients,” said Kathryn Beck, New Zealand Law Society president.
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