More care is needed when acting for elderly clients, lawyers have been told.
The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal issued the guidance after censuring Rico Scott Horsley, who it found guilty of negligence in his professional capacity, according to the New Zealand Law Society.
“[The tribunal members] record by way of guidance for other lawyers, that where a client is elderly, good practice demands independent verification of capacity and the taking of particular care in ascertaining complete understanding and consent to a transaction being undertaken on that person's behalf,” it said.
The Auckland lawyer had a conflict of interest when he acted for two clients in a transaction. However, the tribunal said his actions were at the lower end of the scale of negligence and that this is his first disciplinary finding after being in practice for 14 years.
“We accept that this was a normally careful practitioner who simply failed to recognise what he was dealing with in this case,” it said.
He was fined $4,000 and ordered to pay $35,000 in costs.