Kiwi lawyer struck off for misconduct

A New Zealand lawyer has been struck from the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors after flouting an undertaking and using held funds for personal gain

The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered that Christopher Giddens be struck from the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors.

Giddens, who now lives in Australia, failed to attend a hearing of the disciplinary charge that he had admitted.

The tribunal found that the deliberate or wilfully blind flouting of an undertaking and payment of funds held, for personal gain, to be a very serious from of misconduct.

His misconduct arose from the breach of an undertaking given on his behalf that he would hold $50,000 in his trust account for a particular purpose.

Giddens held the money from the proceeds of a property by an estate that he acted for and in respect of which he was one of the trustees.

He undertook to apply the money to rectify an access problem over an adjacent property. Instead the $50,000 was disbursed to meet his fees in a clear breach of the undertaking.

In addition to striking him off the roll, the tribunal ordered him to pay the Law Society costs of $9,685 and reimburse the costs of the hearing.

New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore says lawyers must honour all undertakings, whether written or oral, that he or she gives to any person in the course of practise.

“It is plainly dishonourable for a practitioner to ignore an undertaking. Such conduct seriously undermines the confidence banks, fellow practitioners and the public have in them,” he says.

Giddens could not be contacted for comment.

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