Feedback invited on Terms of Reference for review of legal services


Tue 20 Apr 2021

The Law Society is consulting on the proposed focus for an independent review of the rules and law that govern legal services.

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa is asking for feedback on the draft Terms of Reference for the Independent Review of the statutory framework for legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand. This consultation is focused only on the Terms of Reference. There will be another consultation later this year as part of the review process.

The closing date to give feedback on the draft Terms of Reference is 20 May 2021.

The draft Terms of Reference outline the proposed terms for an independent review, commissioned by the New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa. The review will look at the framework for the regulation and representation of legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand. This will include the structure and functions of the Law Society. The Terms will determine what issues will be considered in the review. The draft Terms outline the proposed drivers for the review:

"– the constraints the current Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 places on the Law Society’s ability to be transparent about its complaints process, and to deal with a broad range of unacceptable behaviour, including complaints of sexual harassment and bullying within the profession.

– the importance of ensuring the statutory framework, particularly those areas for which the Law Society is responsible, is fit for purpose now that the Act is over a decade old.

– the opportunity to look ahead at what is needed to ensure competition and innovation in the legal profession and strengthen the profession’s commitment to the bi-cultural foundations of Aotearoa New Zealand."

The Law Society website states:

"This is an ambitious review, with the potential to result in significant change to how legal services are regulated, including the conduct of lawyers, and how the profession is represented."

You can give feedback on the Terms through an anonymous online survey.

There will be further consultation as part of the review. A reviewer has not yet been appointed. For questions contact the Law Society at independentreview@lawsociety.org.nz.

Related news

Submissions are open on the Lawyers and Conveyancers (Employed Lawyers Providing Free Legal Services) Amendment Bill. The bill proposes to amend the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 to allow a lawyer who is an employee to do free legal work other than for the lawyer’s employer. Currently, an employed lawyer may in some circumstances be guilty of misconduct if they do legal work outside of their employment. The Lawyers and Conveyancers (Employed Lawyers Providing Free Legal Services) Amendment Bill is a member's bill.  The closing date for submissions is 7 May 2021.

In early April 2021 the NZ Law Society announced new rules to govern lawyer's behaviour will come into effect on 1 July 2021. The rules have an emphasis on tackling bullying and harassment following the 2018 report of the Law Society working group. The Law Society said: "The amended Rules include clearer definitions of bullying, discrimination, harassment, including racial and sexual harassment, and other unacceptable conduct. There are new reporting requirements for notifying this conduct to the Law Society to ensure that there is an appropriate regulatory response."

In the NZ Law Society Weekly email (Issue 232) it was announced that a new process has been agreed with the Heads of Bench for lawyers to raise concerns about judges' conduct in court with the Law Society through an informal process. For more information see the Law Society information on Bullying and harassment in the legal profession and the judicial protocol.

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Image: Dirk Wouters from Pixabay

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