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Clint Rickards – Fitness for Practice Certificate

13 November 2008

Media release – for immediate use

Clint Rickards – application for admission as a barrister and solicitor

The New Zealand Law Society’s Fitness for Practice Committee has responsibility for inquiring into requests for certificates of character by candidates seeking admission as barristers and solicitors of the High Court. That is a statutory responsibility, arising under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 and its associated Admission Rules.

The Committee was recently required to respond to such a request from Mr Clint Rickards who is applying for admission after having completed a law degree at the University of Auckland. As happens with every candidate for admission, Mr Rickards’ request for a certificate of character was notified in a publication to the legal profession, in which lawyers and members of the public generally were told of their entitlement to make submissions in response.

This resulted in numerous responses, both supporting and opposing Mr Rickards’ admission. It was the responsibility of the Committee to consider all of those submissions, and anything else it regarded as relevant to the decision whether or not to certify that Mr Rickards was a fit and proper person to be admitted as a barrister and solicitor. That is the inquiry the Committee is required to make under sections 51 and 55 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006.

The opposition to Mr Rickards’ admission was prompted largely by the two high profile criminal trials in the High Court at Auckland, in which he was tried and acquitted, most recently in March 2007. After considering the circumstances of the criminal trials, and all the matters raised by the submitters, both favourable and unfavourable, and other material, the Committee formed the view that there were insufficient grounds to refuse a certificate of character.

In reaching this decision, the Committee noted that:

- The trials involved conduct that occurred over 20 years ago.
- The applicant had since had a distinguished career in the Police.
- The applicant was acquitted of the historic charges.
- If the Law Society refuses a certificate of character, the applicant can apply to the High Court for admission and, in other cases, the Court has taken a “forward looking” approach.

Accordingly, the Committee agreed that a Certificate of Character should be issued to Clint Rickards.


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