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.
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.