Convicted fraudster heads New Zealand Law Society

A former District Court Judge convicted of 8 charges of fraud has been appointed to the Complaints Committee of the New Zealand Law Society. Mr Robert Hesketh (pictured) fled the bench and was struck off as a lawyer after his 1997 criminal conviction. He will now sit in judgment of New Zealand lawyers who are the subject of complaint for alleged unethical conduct.

The revelation has turned heads in a Law Society accustomed to unconventional appointments.

Lawyer-turned-non-lawyer-turned lawyer-again Duncan Webb jumped from Law Society Committee Member three years ago to become “Lay Observer” over Law Society complaint appeals. Mr Webb was caught-out practicing without a certificate after abruptly leaving this lay post in January 2009.

Three parties filed complaints against Webb. The Law Society responded by refusing to open a file in relation to Mr Webb practicing law without a licence, claiming they had no jurisdiction over “non-lawyers” even though their former committee member was claiming to be a partner of Lane Neave in Christchurch. Mr Webb was granted his practising certificate a week later.