Judge rules on struck-off Barry Hart's latest bid
Barry Hart has lost his bid to keep working as a lawyer until his appeal against being struck-off is heard in December.
In a hearing at the Auckland High Court yesterday, he applied for "interim relief" which would have allowed him to continue working on his existing clients' cases until then.
However, Justice Graham Lang has denied the application because "the need to protect the public is paramount."
"This requires Mr Hart to remain suspended pending determination of his appeals," Justice Lang says in his just-released judgment.
Mr Hart argued his clients rely on him to appear on their behalf at hearings, so they will be significantly prejudiced if he can't do that.
Justice Lang says more than half of Mr Hart's upcoming court appearances are relatively minor, and "it should not be unduly difficult for Mr Hart to find alternative representation for his clients."
If Mr Hart was allowed to keep working as a lawyer, it would also be impossible to "adequately manage or guard against the risk to members of the public that relaxation of the current suspension would create.
"This is because there is no adequate means of monitoring Mr Hart's activities on a day-to-day basis."
For example, there would be no way to ensure Mr Hart did not take on new clients, Justice Lang says.
Justice Lang granted Mr Hart a small extension, until today, to file documents relating to his appeal.
Mr Hart's appeal hearing is due to start on December 10.
The Law Society's national prosecutions manager, Mark Treleaven, says Justice Lang's decision is the correct one, given the purpose of suspending struck-off lawyers is to protect the public.
"The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act required any lawyer who had been struck-off to be suspended from practice until expiry of the time allowed for an appeal.
"Justice Lang found that parliament clearly chose to introduce a measure designed to ensure that the community was protected in spite of the consequential hardship for Mr Hart and his clients," Mr Treleaven says.
Meanwhile, a collection of Mr Hart's cars, including a 2011 Ferrari California worth more than $250,000, will be auctioned this weekend to pay back some of his debt.
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