Jim Farmer on the Catriona MacLennan saga

Opinion: John Bowie on the Catriona MacLennan criticism.

The New Zealand Law Society must be feeling a little like, say, Donald Trump's beleaguered lawyer, Michael Cohen.  At every turn, (the whole #Metoo brouhaha and now the Catriona MacLennan 'investigation') it has been wrongfooted or just wrong.

So far as Catriona MacLennan's reasoned comments about District Court judge John Brandts-Giesen's comments in the Queenstown District Court are concerned, the issue was placed into perspective by a much more reasoned and sensible commentary than the judge was able to utter from the bench from Jim Farmer QC in a post on his blog.

Apart from placing the issue of judicial criticism into perspective, Mr Farmer also provided the Law Society with the necessary precedent to support the argument that sometimes the best thing a judge can do is remain silent.  For those wishing to check the authority, it is the Court of Appeal’s R. Commission of Police ex parte Blackburn  [1968].   The learned silk commended the case as possibly being "instructive" to the law society’s national standards committee.

He also referenced the castigating letter to the Law Society from London-based barrister Benedict Tompkins,  son of a district court judge and grandson of a high court judge, who called for the removal of the committee members.

To put it more bluntly but not as much perhaps as Mr Tompkins, the committee's ill-judged and precious criticism of Ms MacLennan's rebuke was a dumb-assed idea.  Go to jail and do not pass Go.

This week the society's national standards committee found no further action would be taken, after being satisfied Ms MacLennan's statements were made in good faith and that some of the judge’s remarks were inappropriate.

Anti-money laundering deadline looms
As the impending anti-money-laundering rules loom ever closer, July 1 being the start date for  the legal profession's compliance with the major changes to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act regime, followed by accountants, real estate agents and other businesses dealing in high-value goods, many firms remain woefully ill-prepared, I'm told.

Various anti-money laundering consultants are flat to the boards helping firms prepare their compliance systems but many firms are simply leaving the compliance practices to the last minute and it could end in tears for some firms, consultants say.

This is supplied content and not commissioned or paid for by NBR.

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