Top lawyer Barry Hart struck off
Fri, 14 Sep 2012 12:37p.m.
Lawyer Barry Hart has been struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors for professional misconduct.
The high profile Auckland defence lawyer was last month found guilty of overcharging clients by the Lawyers and Conveyances Disciplinary Tribunal.
Today the tribunal struck him off the roll, preventing the 71-year-old from practising as a lawyer.
The tribunal in August found that a fee of $35,000 charged by Mr Hart was "gross overcharging" and he had failed to inform clients about his fees.
The New Zealand Law Society says the decision to strike off Mr Hart was not taken lightly.
"Striking off is a severe penalty. It obviously has serious consequences for the lawyer who is struck off. However, as the legislation, the tribunal and our courts have stressed, the main purpose of striking off is to protect the community and maintain the standards of the legal profession," said its president Jonathan Temm.
Mr Temm says the tribunal had stressed that a lawyer's approach to an investigation was a crucial factor and was particularly critical of what it described as "the arrogant and derisory manner" in which Mr Hart had approached any complaint of his conduct.
Mr Hart had hired Ewen Macdonald's defence lawyer Greg King to defend the charges.
Mr King described Mr Hart as a people-person who did pro bono work, and who often let clients stay on his property for bail and parole purposes.
Mr Hart was admitted to the bar in 1966. Since then he has represented thousands of clients. Many of the cases have been high profile and complex, such as Samurai sword attacker and convicted killer Antonie Dixon and career criminal Arthur Taylor. He's been to the Privy Council eight times and to the Supreme Court.
Mr Hart says he will appeal the decision.
NZN / 3 News
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17/09/2012 12:22:45 a.m.
Andrew Roberts wrote:
This ruling smacks totally of an establishment out to put a maverick in his place. OK, so possibly he did overcharge, I don't actually know, but what I do know is that everyone of the pompous lawyers who ruled against him will have been guilty of the same crime on numerous occasions. The ruling based on one case, possibly two, does not match the alledged offence. He has given his life to defend diffcult people in difficult cases. Without people like Barry we end up as right wing elitist and nasty society. Try getting justice in America if you are on the fringes. Give him a slap on the wrist, but the idea that society needs to be protected from the likes of Barry Hart is plain stupid. What society needs to be protected from is the pompus twats who throw their establishment weight around and puff out their chests, no doubt on-route to their boring dinner parties in Victoria Ave.
15/09/2012 3:14:12 p.m.
Just showed how he has a sense of arrogance too him but not even showing up for the tribunal hearing dates when he was supposed too.
He may have been a good lawyer but he's not an honest man!
I would like to see an overhaul of the legal system where the lawyers aren't paid for the amount of clients they have or hearings they attend but are paid a regular fixed salary as legal aid is simply being wasted and taken advantage of.
Even alot of the Defendants are taken advantage of where they want to plead guilty but their lawyer says... hang on mate... just another hearing or two... that's not in the Defendant's best interest but in the lawyers financial interest as lawyers get paid each time a defendant appears before the court!
15/09/2012 1:31:58 a.m.
Read the decision, the penalty was primarily because of how he defended himself (which was not what he was found guilty of). Indeed, he did not have to defend himself, the onus was on the law society all the way.
Imagine being tried for murder and disrespecting the Judge (wrong, but not the issue). Imagine being found guilty but hanged mostly for contempt, not the murder itself. High Court should overturn this on appeal fairly succinctly.
Good luck Barry, do not know you too well but in the talks we had I got the impression you were a dedicated lawyer. To my knowledge, never in New Zealand history has anyone ever been struck off for overcharging or not handing over a file (or not defending oneself "responsibly").
Barry was part of the legal team that embarrassed the New Zealand justice system's abhorrent denial of justice to the poor in the Privy Council Taito decision, see  3 NZLR 577.
Harder was a lawyer that fought the system. So was Comeskey. Seems that every top criminal defence lawyer who becomes too much of a tall poppy gets chopped down.
This message will probably be censored, speaks volumes about the Fourth Estate here.
14/09/2012 7:29:50 p.m.
Magic ! if only we could get rid of the rest of the parasites.
14/09/2012 7:20:54 p.m.
not much you can say really, No surprises really. For some reason we accept that lawyers are entitled to charge the earth. Cant really say what i would like to say....mmmm
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