Auckland lawyer Grant Donald Shand has been censured and fined by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
In January 2019 the Tribunal found Mr Shand guilty of unsatisfactory conduct. This related to his failure to timeously provide all documents, upon request, to the new lawyers for a former client, and breaching confidentiality by disclosing to the public confidential information obtained during his relationship with the former client.
The matters related to court proceedings arising from the Christchurch earthquake of 2010. Issues around proof of earthquake damage and the client’s refusal to accept a settlement offer resulted in termination of an litigation funding company’s agreement to fund the client and the withdrawal of Mr Shand’s firm from representing him. The client immediately instructed another lawyer. Mr Shand responded to adverse media comment by providing confidential details of his client to a journalist. He also took eight months to provide the other lawyer with all documents relating to his former client.
The Tribunal noted technological difficulties hampered Mr Shand’s provision of all documents to the former client, but said he was required to address the difficulties with more self-application than displayed. It also found that in his comments to the journalist he had breached the rules relating to client confidentiality.
In determining an appropriate penalty, the Tribunal said it had some sympathy for Mr Shand, but considered his actions should attract a sanction. Additionally, Mr Shand could not claim an unblemished disciplinary record and he had been the subject of six unsatisfactory conduct findings at lawyers standards committee level between August 2011 and November 2017. He had also previously appeared before the Tribunal in November 2013 and was censured, fined and ordered to pay compensation and costs after admitting a charge or negligence or incompetence in his professional capacity.
As well as censuring Mr Shand, the Tribunal imposed a fine of $3,000. He was ordered to pay $25,000 towards the New Zealand Law Society’s costs and to reimburse the Law Society’s Tribunal costs of $10,080.
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Note that the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal is not a Law Society tribunal, but is an independent tribunal administered by the Ministry of Justice. The Tribunal has expressed its disappointment a number of times (see its annual reports) that some media consistently state that it is a Law Society tribunal.
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