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Wellington lawyer struck off for disgraceful conduct

News from NZ Law Society
A Wellington lawyer has been struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors for disgraceful and dishonourable conduct.

Ian David Hay was found guilty of one charge which included a reckless breach of Rule 5.10 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008.

The charge before the Disciplinary Tribunal related to circumstances surrounding his guarantee of a $200,000 loan from a client to a company he was associated with and then failing to repay her the money.

Mr Hay used the funds largely to pay off his own debts, rather than putting them into the Queenstown development which had been discussed with the client.

Ian Hay’s defence counsel had submitted to the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal that a censure and imposing restrictions on his practice would be a more appropriate penalty.

The Tribunal disagreed.

New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck says the Tribunal’s descriptions of Mr Hay’s behaviour were very apt.

“Terms such as ‘outrageous’, ‘disgraceful’, ‘dishonourable’ and ‘blatant obfuscation’ leave no doubt as to the impact of his actions on his client and also on the reputation of the legal profession.”

Mr Hay had three previous disciplinary findings against him and was also declared bankrupt in 2014.

“The consequences of his actions to the complainant have been extremely grave. She obtained a judgment against Mr Hay for $227, 293.15. However, none of this money was repaid to her because Mr Hay was bankrupted,” Ms Beck says.

The Tribunal noted that Mr Hay has since come out of bankruptcy and his circumstances are described as modest.

Ian Hay who had been a lawyer for 32 years was struck off the roll on 17 April. He has been ordered to pay $25,000 to the complainant, which is the maximum amount of compensation the Tribunal is able to award.

He has also been ordered to pay costs to the Law Society’s prosecuting standards committee of $33,095.74.

The legal profession’s regulator, the New Zealand Law Society, is to pay the Tribunal costs of $14,922.