Archive | Lawyers

Judge refuses Hart’s request to work before strike-off appeal

Published 26 September 2012

Justice Graham Lang has refused senior criminal barrister Barry Hart’s request to be allowed to appear for existing clients in the 2½ months before his appeal is heard against an order that he be struck off the roll of barristers & solicitors.

Justice Lang heard Mr Hart’s application in the Auckland High Court yesterday and issued his decision this afternoon.

Mr Hart asked the court to allow him to honour commitments to appear on behalf of clients in 22 court fixtures scheduled for hearing in the district, high & appeal courts during the rest of this year.

However, Justice Lang stuck by the principles of the Lawyers & Conveyancers Act, which included this statement: “Once a properly constituted tribunal has concluded that a person is not a fit & proper person to be a practitioner, the need to protect the public from that person becomes paramount.”

Justice Lang said Parliament must have been aware of possible outcomes of this law in the period leading to an appeal: “It clearly chose to introduce a regime designed to ensure that the community was protected, notwithstanding the consequential hardship for an appellant & his or her clients.”

The judge said it would be impossible to monitor Mr Hart’s activities on a day-to-day basis to ensure he didn’t take on new clients or provide additional advice or service to existing clients.

Justice Lang said it would be up to Mr Hart & the courts to ensure disruption was minimised. He said more than half the fixtures were for less than a day, some just callovers, and it shouldn’t be hard to find alternative representation. There were 2 trials, but a sentence indication had been sought in one and there would be time in both cases to source other representation.

Mr Hart was ordered struck from the roll on 14 September after a hearing by the NZ Lawyers & Conveyancers Tribunal. His appeal has been set down for hearing on Monday 10 December.

Earlier story:

26 September 2012: Hart seeks permission to keep working before strike-off appeal

 

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Attribution: Judgment, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Hart seeks permission to keep working before strike-off appeal

Published 26 September 2012

Auckland criminal barrister Barry Hart’s appeal against being struck off the register has been set down for hearing on Monday 10 December.

Mr Hart was ordered struck from the roll of barristers & solicitors on 14 September after a hearing by the NZ Lawyers & Conveyancers Tribunal. He was back in court yesterday seeking a stay of the tribunal’s decision so he could handle cases he’s already scheduled to appear in up to the date of the appeal, including a 3-week High Court trial and some Court of Appeal appearances.

High Court judge Graham Lang made short work today of one application by Mr Hart’s counsel, Jeremy Bioletti, for an extension of time for filing the appeal, which apparently hadn’t made it to the right desk in the courthouse on time. Justice Lang said the court rules provided for an extension and dispensed with argument.

The judge then heard submissions from Mr Bioletti and counsel for the NZ Law Society’s Auckland standards committee, Jan McCartney SC, on whether Mr Hart should be allowed to practice, before reserving his decision, which he expected to release by tomorrow.

Mr Bioletti said the court had a discretion on whether to suspend. He said the issues before the disciplinary tribunal related to his fees – there was no allegation that Mr Hart wasn’t a competent trial counsel.

Mr Hart said in an affidavit: “This would end my career & livelihood.” Justice Lang found that a very bald statement which lacked evidence that being out of work for 2 months would result in his bankruptcy or mean his practice couldn’t be resurrected if he won the appeal.

Earlier stories:

16 September 2012: Barry Hart, still showing no contrition, struck off roll of lawyers

10 September 2012: Court orders Hart off Woodhill property – by email – and tells him to leave the gates

13 July 2012: Hart withdraws opposition to mortgagee sale of his Waimauku property

22 June 2012: Hart withdraws injunction call over mortgagee land sale, says resolution close

U: The names behind the action, the week to 10 June 2012, part 2, Barrister Barry Hart vacates application to recall BJ Hart liquidation order

U: The names behind the action, the week to 10 June 2012, part 1, Barrister Barry Hart’s BJ Hart wound up, but recall of order sought

1 June 2012: Hart’s Jervois Rd chambers sold 

18 May 2012: Barrister Barry Hart can’t stop tender for his Waimauku land continuing

26 March 2012: Bank takes lawyer Barry Hart’s Waimauku land to tender – including Cornerstone block

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Attribution: Court hearing, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Barry Hart, still showing no contrition, struck off roll of lawyers

Published 16 September 2012

Auckland barrister Barry Hart was ordered struck from the roll of barristers & solicitors on Friday after a hearing by the NZ Lawyers & Conveyancers Tribunal.

The tribunal, chaired by Judge Dale Clarkson with 4 other members, ordered Mr Hart to pay 85% of the $116,429 costs incurred by the complainant, the law society’s Auckland standards committee; to fully reimburse the society for the $45,000 costs it has to pay the tribunal; and to pay a complainant family $20,000.

The tribunal found Mr Hart, 75, guilty of 3 charges of professional misconduct at the end of his 46-year career at the criminal bar. Judge Clarkson said there had been 7 previous disciplinary findings against Mr Hart: “One of these is 30 years old but is relevant in its subject matter in that it is a finding of professional misconduct for gross overcharging – that is an identical finding to the current charge 4.”

The tribunal noted that “contrition is entirely absent”. Judge Clarkson said: “Had Mr Hart approached the various investigations in these proceedings differently, and had there been a less serious recent disciplinary history, suspension would have been the option adopted. But the arrogant & derisory manner in which he has approached any complaint – right up to the penalty hearing where he attempted to defend his failure to produce yet another file for inspection following a complaint – has meant that we can have no confidence in either his rehabilitation or protection of the public by ensuring there is no risk of reoffending.”

Last Monday, Justice Geoffrey Venning made an order in the High Court for Woodhill Black Sand Ltd (David & Joy Steele, Woodhill) to enforce possession of the property it bought in a mortgagee sale from Mr Hart.

ANZ National Bank Ltd said in an injunction hearing in May it was owed $30 million by Mr Hart’s interests, with interest accruing at more than $200,000/month, but the combined capital value of the 965ha of properties was put at $26 million.

Mr Hart’s law chambers on Jervois Rd, Ponsonby, held by a trust company, were sold in a separate Bayleys tender at the end of May and one of his companies, BJ Hart Ltd, was wound up in June on Inland Revenue’s application.

Links: Tribunal decisions

Penalty decision

Earlier stories:

10 September 2012: Court orders Hart off Woodhill property – by email – and tells him to leave the gates

13 July 2012: Hart withdraws opposition to mortgagee sale of his Waimauku property

22 June 2012: Hart withdraws injunction call over mortgagee land sale, says resolution close

U: The names behind the action, the week to 10 June 2012, part 2, Barrister Barry Hart vacates application to recall BJ Hart liquidation order

U: The names behind the action, the week to 10 June 2012, part 1, Barrister Barry Hart’s BJ Hart wound up, but recall of order sought

1 June 2012: Hart’s Jervois Rd chambers sold 

18 May 2012: Barrister Barry Hart can’t stop tender for his Waimauku land continuing

26 March 2012: Bank takes lawyer Barry Hart’s Waimauku land to tender – including Cornerstone block

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

 

Attribution: Tribunal decision, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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