The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered that Auckland lawyer Richard Holland be struck from the roll of barristers and solicitors, according to the New Zealand Law Society. Holland admitted six charges of misconduct before the tribunal. The tribunal also made orders relating to compensation and costs.
Three of the charges related to when he acted for a client in the sale of her property and received $200,000 as a share of the settlement proceeds. He deducted $39,405 in legal fees and misappropriated and/or failed to account to his client for the balance of $160,595.
Holland then encouraged his client to sign a sham loan agreement purporting to document the money he had misappropriated as a loan from his client to himself.
Acting in another sale of property, he received $252,120 into his trust account and only paid his client $165,176. He admitted misappropriating or failing to account for $86,944. Holland also admitted misappropriating $4,600 when he acted for another client.
Another misconduct charge followed a New Zealand Law Society inspection of his trust account. This found that he had failed to keep proper trust account records as required by the trust account regulations.
New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore said lawyers acting in property matters were required to be scrupulous in their accounting.
“Because large sums of money are involved there are very strict rules and any failure to account is viewed extremely seriously,” he said.
Auckland lawyer struck off, ordered to pay clients $482,721