An Auckland lawyer who certified a marriage separation that he knew to be false has been suspended from practising for nine months.
Immigration lawyer Heval Hylan was suspended by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal (LCDT) after he certified a separation despite the husband and wife still living together.
The wife was being forced to sign the agreement so that the husband could appear to be available in the eyes of Immigration New Zealand and his overseas "girlfriend" could get a visa.
The prosecuting Standards Committee said Hylan knew the agreement represented a "false arrangement" and that he knew it was going to be used to mislead Immigration New Zealand.
"In those circumstances Mr Hylan was under a duty, and an obligation, to refuse to become involved and that he should have declined to involve himself with the agreement," the Standards Committee said.
The tribunal found that Hylan's conduct was "a significant departure from accepted standards and would be regarded by lawyers of good standing as disgraceful or dishonourable".
Law Society National Prosecutions Manager Mark Treleaven said Hylan had "lacked probity and integrity by his conduct in signing the agreement".
“New Zealand lawyers are held to an extremely high standard of professional conduct, and they are expected to maintain the integrity of the legal profession no matter how much pressure is placed upon them.”
In finding him guilty, the tribunal said it had "serious reservations about the accuracy of Mr Hylan's recollection in this matter."
"We should also signal that the Tribunal considers the manner in which the charge has been defended, with implausible claims and, at best, significantly faulty recall, is a matter which does not reflect well on Mr Hylan and compounds the issue of his lack of probity and integrity demonstrated by his conduct in signing the agreement."