Donna Hall disciplinary hearing delayed for water rights case
Maori Council lawyer Donna Hall is fighting a legal battle of her own against the Law Society, which alleges she has bought the profession into disrepute with her actions in a land deal.
But while the Maori Council's claim on water is being dealt with as a matter of urgency, Ms Hall has been granted a delay in the disciplinary case. She argues she's too busy right now.
Ms Hall is always keen to stop and talk about the Maori Council's claim on water. But she really doesn't like talking about the disciplinary action she is facing.
“Don't ask me that question as I walk into this court case,” she told 3 News today.
Ms Hall is accused of a conflict of interest after allegedly acting as the vendor, purchaser and lender during a 2007 land deal at Tauhara near Lake Taupo.
The Law Society has charged her with "negligence or incompetence, [which] has been of such a degree as to reflect on her fitness to practise or as to bring her profession into disrepute”.
And the Lawyers and Conveyancers Council has found Ms Hall has a prima facie case to answer. The possible penalties could include being struck off.
“Give me a break,” she says. “This is a really big case and this is the case that's on today. That's what I want to answer your questions on and I won't answer your questions on any more.”
Ms Hall is fighting the Law Society in the courts. Her challenge was due to be heard in the High Court last Monday, but she got her case delayed because her and her lawyer Helen Cull QC are busy on the water claim.
“It’s the same team and we can't be in two places at once. I don't want to talk anymore about that.”
The delay was granted by the court despite being opposed by the Law Society. It means Ms Hall was able to appear in court today. She has been a driving force behind the council claim.
But her work on the Tauhara deal has left many, like land trustee Arapiu Seymour, feeling short-changed and angry.
“It is the case of justice delayed, justice denied,” says Mr Seymour. “And I blame the court for that.”
3 News asked the High Court today to detail the judge's reasons for delaying the case relating to Ms Hall. It did not respond. Ms Hall's case is now set down for February, by which time the water claim is expected to be completed. That is unless, of course, it is delayed by appeals.