A lawyer who once hired underage prostitutes and was convicted of fraud is in trouble again, after clients had hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into his personal account.
The New Zealand Solicitors and Conveyors Disciplinary Tribunal also found that Ōtaki’s solicitor, Quentin Haines, had been overcharged, knowing it would give him power over a client, and carried out his work despite disputes. ‘interests.
The findings, made in April, are just the latest bumps in Haines’ legal career.
He was sentenced to pre-trial detention after being found guilty in 2001 of criminal association in connection with his work as a traveling salesman for his father’s company.
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This conviction forced him to go to the High Court to obtain a certificate of legal practice, after the Law Society refused him.
Judge Graham Lang, who granted the certificate, found in 2006 that Haines was under the influence of his father during the offense and had changed his life.
Haines was in court again for the wrong reasons in 2018, when he was sentenced to six months house arrest for hiring two underage prostitutes.
One was 14 but said she was 19 on a dating site, while the other told her she was 17.
The legal age for prostitution is 18, but Haines said he was unaware of the difference between that and the legal age for consensual sex being 16.
The 68-page court ruling comes after three people, all of whom have name deletions, filed multiple complaints about Haines’ conduct while he was acting for them.
Most of the issues involved a client named in the ruling as Mr. M, whom Haines met in bankruptcy court appearances.
He handled a case for Mr. M pro bono, which led to him being hired to act on various cases between 2015 and 2018.
The pair had an agreement Haines would only get paid at certain events, but Haines did not update the agreement at key times, such as when he raised his rate from $500 an hour to 1 $000.
Mr M’s financial situation deteriorated to the point where he was threatened with bankruptcy in 2018, while Haines’ position also became precarious due to the fact that he spent around 20 hours a week on the business of MM
Haines and MM met later and agreed that invoices would be issued for certain things, although MM could not pay anything due to his financial difficulties.
Haines then issued Mr. M a bill for $1 million in August 2018, which the court found exceeded all reasonable charges for the work performed.
Haines charged the excessive fee knowing it would give him greater voting power when it came to creditor compromises, and also increase the chances that any compromise would be accepted, the court heard.
“We consider the lawyer’s conduct in making this bill ‘disgraceful and dishonorable’, so as to constitute misconduct.”
Haines also performed litigation work for Mr. M and various entities associated with him under a different agreement, primarily in relation to bankruptcy proceedings, which similarly stipulated that he would only be paid if some milestones were reached.
Haines also borrowed $575,000 from finance companies while acting for Mr. M, with the loans guaranteed by Mr. M or related entities.
Haines defaulted on some loans and, despite advising Mr M on the bankruptcy proceedings, issued an invoice for $1.15million, which he included in a creditors’ proposal he prepared and filed.
The court found that Haines acted for MM despite the conflicts of interest arising from the bankruptcy litigation.
Another client, Mr. R, retained Haines to act in a real estate dispute.
They agreed it would cost $50,000, half paid upfront and the other half after a hearing or when issues are resolved.
Mr. R paid $29,975 in advance in installments, all to Haines’ personal account.
Another $30,005 was paid into Haines’ account after the sale of the property by the attorney acting for the sale of the property.
But the legal issues were unresolved and there was no hearing.
The end client, Mr. C, hired Haines to have his bankruptcy annulled, which happened, and for a lawsuit against a former attorney.
Haines was acting on behalf of the Simpson & Co law firm at the time, but later came out on his own.
The lawsuit against the former lawyer demanded that $20,000 be held in a trust account so that an accounting firm could provide advice.
But that money instead went into Haines’ personal account.
While $90,000 was paid to Simpson & Co for services, another $330,000 went directly to Haines’ personal account without invoices or receipts being issued.
Haines told Mr. C that the money was going to a business bank account for Simpson & Co.
He also failed to hold an agreement to repay Mr. C for a $55,000 loan.
The court said Haines used the trust he gained from Mr C following the successful annulment of the bankruptcy to demand large sums without proper accounting.
“To simply continue to demand money so persistently and for such large sums without any proper accounting is utterly shameful for any lawyer.”
Haines has until May to file submissions on the penalty he should face.
He is no longer on the New Zealand Law Society’s Register of Practicing Lawyers, having surrendered his practicing certificate in August 2018.