An Auckland lawyer has been struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors for adversely dealing with his client’s trust funds without their knowledge.
The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal found Brian Robert Ellis guilty of misconduct.
He persistently failed to comply with his trust account reporting obligations, adversely dealt with his client’s trust funds without the client’s knowledge and deducted an unjustified fee from the funds, the tribunal found.
Ellis is appealing the striking off order.
In another matter in June, Ellis acted for a client when he had a conflict of interest. The tribunal censured and suspended him from practice for six months.
With the latest finding, Ellis has now had seven disciplinary findings against him.
The tribunal said it could not have confidence similar conduct would be avoided in the future and there was a risk of reoffending.
As well as striking Ellis off the roll, the tribunal required him to honour his agreement to pay $810 to his former client and to pay prosecution costs of $31,600.
“Trust accounting responsibilities are at the heart of relationship between lawyers and their clients,” New Zealand Law Society president Kathryn Beck said.
“Any adverse dealings by lawyers with funds which are held in trust for clients will always be treated extremely seriously.”