Hart's Law Society appeal kicks off
Former lawyer Barry Hart is sitting in the public gallery at the High Court at Auckland at the start of his appeal against being struck off by the New Zealand Law Society.
Hart's lawyer Anthony Trenwith has argued the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal was wrong to proceed with its hearing against Hart earlier this year even though the former lawyer was ill and could not defend himself.
The veteran defence lawyer was struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors in September after the tribunal found him guilty of misconduct, including that he overcharged fees, obstructed the Auckland District Law Society's investigations and did not fully pay a private investigator he had hired.
Trenwith said a medical certificate provided to the tribunal by Hart's doctor saying he was not fit for "court work" had not been given proper consideration and the hearing should not have gone ahead with Hart's position undefended.
He said the doctor's statement that Hart was unwell was unequivocal and any thought that it was a ploy by Hart to delay the hearing further was merely suspicion.
Trenwith said the exact nature of the illness was a mystery but the symptoms of chest tightness, lack of sleep and exhaustion were real.
The case is being heard by Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann and Justice Graham Lang.
Hart also faces bankruptcy proceedings being brought by ANZ Bank later this week after it sold Hart's west Auckland properties to meet more than $30 million in debt.
The hearing continues.