Ex-se­nior lawyer train­ing self-lit­i­gants

Papakura Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - CHRIS HARROWELL

A le­gal ex­pert is us­ing his knowl­edge to help South Auck­lan­ders nav­i­gate New Zealand’s jus­tice sys­tem.

The struck-off lawyer, Vi­nay Deob­hakta, is run­ning work­shops at Manukau In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy teach­ing peo­ple how to rep­re­sent them­selves, or sup­port some­one else, in court.

He runs the classes as part of his ser­vice McKen­zie Friend Pro­fes­sion­als. A McKen­zie friend is a per­son who sup­ports another in­di­vid­ual in court and does not need to have le­gal qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Deob­hakta says he teaches very lit­tle law in his work­shops.

‘‘It’s mostly pro­ce­dural and about how to nav­i­gate your way through tri­bunals or the Fam­ily Court. I mo­ti­vate peo­ple to fo­cus in on what­ever is­sue is im­por­tant for them, start deal­ing with it, and give them con­fi­dence to go on.’’

Deob­hakta says his work­shops can also ben­e­fit the jus­tice sys­tem by in­creas­ing peo­ple’s knowl­edge of how it works.

He no longer works as a lawyer due to the NZ Lawyers and Con­veyancers Dis­ci­plinary Tri­bunal or­der­ing he be struck off the roll of bar­ris­ters and so­lic­i­tors in 2009.

Ac­cord­ing to the NZ Law So­ci­ety, he was ‘‘found guilty of mis­con­duct when he acted for a client who was be­ing pur­sued by the In­land Rev­enue Depart­ment for un­paid tax’’.

He strongly dis­agrees with the de­ci­sion to strike him off, but chose not to seek re­in­state­ment.

‘‘I’m more in­ter­ested in help- ing oth­ers through this train­ing. I came up with the idea of tai­lor­made train­ing when I went through my own lit­i­ga­tion with the Law So­ci­ety.

‘‘I re­alised if you can’t af­ford a lawyer or have to do it your­self ... it’s pretty tough and even tougher to win whether you’re in­no­cent or not.’’

Deob­hakta says he had 20 years of prac­tice in New Zealand and the United King­dom un­der his belt by the time he ‘‘got into dif­fi­culty’’ in his ca­reer. Not be­ing able to prac­tice as a lawyer led to a ‘‘huge life­style change’’, he says.

‘‘I threw my­self into coun­selling. It turned out to be re­ally good for me and it made me re­alise there’s a lot of in­jus­tice in the sys­tem. I can help by teach­ing peo­ple how to get around com­plex pro­ce­dural is­sues, es­pe­cially with courts and tri­bunals.’’

Go to Face­book.com and search for McKen­zie Friend Pro­fes­sion­als.

Former se­nior lawyer Vi­nay Deob­hakta, right, pic­tured with his busi­ness part­ner Savia Arbuckle, is run­ning le­gal work­shops for self-lit­i­gants.

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