In early January 2019, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Ronald William Winter guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for misleading the director of an investment company by purporting to act for Ronro, a company that he knew or ought to have known was no longer a legal entity, holding himself out as a director of Ronro, and for misleading the court in purporting to act for that company.
He was further found guilty of professional misconduct for misleading that same director of the investment company for holding himself out as a director of Ronro when he was automatically disqualified from being a director by reason of being an undischarged bankrupt, and for representations as to his authority to act on behalf of Ronro.
In subsequent proceedings in late April, the Law Society of NSW submitted that Mr Winter should be removed from the roll, while he argued “the protection of the public and profession does not warrant” striking him off.
He also said he remained a fit and proper person to remain in practice, appreciated and understood the wrongfulness of his conduct, and was of good character with no disciplinary history to speak of.
While the tribunal said that Mr Winter’s conduct was “deliberate and not inadvertent”, as well as being “recklessly careless”, it also noted his “insight and remorse” into his actions and acknowledged that he has been in practice since 1980 and had not been the subject of any disciplinary complaints in that time until these proceedings.
“Having regard to all those factors, we conclude that while the solicitor’s misconduct was serious, he has demonstrated insight into what occurred, and why it occurred,” the tribunal held.
“We are persuaded that it is most unlikely that he would engage in conduct of this kind in the future in the practice of law, rather, that he would take positive steps to ensure to the best of his ability that such significant departures from the high standards expected of an experienced legal practitioner would not be repeated.”
As such, Mr Winter was reprimanded, fined $10,000 and ordered to undergo a legal ethics course.