Lawyer struck off for misappropriating trust money

by Sol Dolor17 Jul 2017
A Dunedin man was struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors for conduct after only returning client money held in trust after the client complained to the New Zealand Law Society.

Former lawyer Richard James Woodhouse is said to have held funds in his trust account amounting to $13,275 in 2006. When he ceased practice in 2009, he failed to return the money to an overseas client.

The prosecuting lawyers standards committee of the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal said that Woodhouse misappropriated the money and determined he only returned it after the client filed a complaint in 2015.

This is in breach of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Trust Account) Regulations 2009, the New Zealand Law Society said. Woodhouse returned $17,000 to the client, which included interest.

“Mr Woodhouse’s behaviour is not reflective of the honesty and ethical behaviour that the vast majority of lawyers are committed to. There is no place in the profession for dishonesty,” said Christine Grice, executive director at the Law Society.

The tribunal has also ordered Woodhouse to pay the Law Society $8,500 in costs.

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