No decision yet in Donna Hall conflict case
The lawyers and conveyancers disciplinary tribunal is yet to issue its written decision as to why Wellington lawyer Donna Hall has a prima facie conflict of interest case to answer.
Ms Hall is defending allegations she acted for the vendor, purchaser and lender during the sale of North Island land in 2007.
The tribunal adjourned earlier this month after Ms Hall’s QC, Helen Cull, submitted there was no case to answer.
A decision was expected to be available after Easter, following Ms Hall’s part-heard disciplinary hearing April 2 and 3.
Justice Ministry senior media adviser Magila Annandale could not say when the decision would be released.
Ms Hall may still give evidence about her alleged conflict of interest in the land deal.
Ms Cull could make submissions to the tribunal, appeal its ruling, or let Ms Hall give evidence subject to cross-examination by the Law Society and questioning by the tribunal.
Ms Cull may decide to appeal the ruling, which is seen as a stalling tactic because it is unlikely an appeal can be determined for some months.
If there is an appeal, the case may not resume until late August or September.
If Ms Cull elects one of the other two options - to continue the hearing by making submissions, or to let Ms Hall give evidence - the hearing may resume in June.
The tribunal will be keen to Ms Hall's explanation of her role in the complex land deal, which saw her rake in $300, 000 in legal fees.
Despite the severity of the charges laid against her, she has not submitted an affidavit in response to the charges laid against her.
Ms Hall acted on behalf of both Tauhara Middle 15 Trust and Hikuwai Hapu Lands Trust in the sale of Tauhara North block near Taupo from Landcorp.
In addition, the tribunal was told Ms Hall also acted for Tauhara Middle 4A2A Trust, which provided an unsecured loan to Tauhara Middle 15 to help fund its $1 million contribution to the deal.
Ms Cull argued that the long-term gains negate the short-term aspects of Ms Hall's alleged conflict of interest and refuted claims Ms Hall pushed for the deals so she could hang on to $300,000 in legal fees from the Hikuwai trust.
“In this case, the interests of the Tauhara and Hikuwai trusts were in common,” Ms Cull said.
“The ultimate benefit has been obtained, as to their trusts and their beneficiaries, an acquisition of a valuable resource.”
She says the two parties' interests were not "opposed" or in direct conflict with each other and the deal had been profitable for beneficiaries because the rateable value of the land bought for $5m is now $8.01m.
"This is not evidence of negligence or incompetence," Ms Cull contends.