Prominent lawyer says he shouldn’t be struck off for misconduct

A high-profile lawyer says he shouldn’t be struck off after invoicing a client almost $3500 for a report which could be done for free.

Christopher Tennet faced the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal today at a penalty hearing, with the hopes he can continue working as a lawyer.

At a hearing last year Tennet faced a charge of professional misconduct when he invoiced a “vulnerable client” for a report, to the tune of $3450.

He later claimed he had no intention of receiving the funds and accepted his conduct was unsatisfactory.

The charge was proven and Tennet, a Wellington lawyer with almost four decades of experience in criminal law, will know the fate of his career when a decision is released by the tribunal in the coming weeks.

The case against Tennet dated back to 2017, when he attempted to get his vulnerable client to pay an invoice of $3450 for a privately obtained drug and alcohol report needed in her upcoming sentencing.

Tennet invoiced the amount to his client when the actual cost would have been $1200, however, such an assessment could be done for free through the courts.

When a report was organised free of charge at a later date for the woman, it was that report writer who complained about Tennet’s conduct.

The invoice was found to be false by the tribunal and an attempt to lever money from the woman, who has permanent name suppression.

She was the partner of a well-known criminal, a man who had been a client of Tennet’s in the past.

She was assaulted by her partner, the man she relied on to pay her legal fees, just days before the misconduct.

As a result Tennet withdrew as her lawyer claiming a conflict of interest.

Lawyer Matthew Mortimer-Wong, acting on

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