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Struck-off criminal barrister who smuggled contraband into prison fails to get restored to the roll

8 Sep 2023

| Author: Hannah Hellyer

Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 – restoration of name to roll – appeal of decision of New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal dismissing application – appeal dismissed

Reid v New Zealand Law Society [2023] NZHC 2370 per Muir J.

 

Davina Reid (née Murray), a former criminal barrister, was counsel to Liam Reid, a prisoner serving a sentence of preventative detention in respect of rape, murder, and attempted murder. Reid had, and retains, a firm personal belief in his innocence.

In 2015, Reid was struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand following conviction for delivering contraband (and an iPhone, cigarettes and a lighter) to Reid in breach of s 141 of the Corrections Act 2004. She married her former client at Paremoremo Prison in June 2017.

In April 2022, Reid applied for restoration to the roll under s 246 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (the LCA). On 24 March 2023, the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal dismissed her application. Reid appealed this decision, as of right, under s 253 of the LCA.

 

Applicable principles: Appeals under s 253 of the LCA are by way of rehearing – approach taken by the High Court on general disciplinary appeals – application of principles in Austin, Nichols & Co Inc v Stichting Lodestar – whether the decision under appeal is wrong – jurisdiction under s 246 of the LCA to order restoration of name to roll – whether the applicant demonstrates she is a fit and proper person to practise as a barrister or solicitor or as both – having regard to the serious nature of the offending, whether complete and unconditional acknowledgement of wrongdoing and of the gravity of the offending has been demonstrated

 

Held: Appeal dismissed. Reid failed to satisfy the court that her conviction no longer remained relevant to her present-day character. Reid’s offending was serious – it affected the standing of the legal profession and constituted an abuse of professional privilege. While 10 years had passed since her offending, Reid continues to demonstrate a serious lack of insight into her wrongdoing. Costs awarded in favour of the respondent on a 2B basis.

 

Hannah Hellyer is an Auckland criminal defence barrister and a member of the ADLS Criminal Law committee and Parole Law committee. 

 

Reid v New Zealand Law Society [2023] NZHC 2370.

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