Law Society invites feedback on independent review of legal services statutory framework

The organisation is seeking input on a draft Terms of Reference

Law Society invites feedback on independent review of legal services statutory framework

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has opened the floor for feedback on a Terms of Reference draft to be used in an independent review of the legal services statutory framework.

“This is an ambitious review that could result in significant change to how legal services are regulated, including the conduct of lawyers and how the profession is represented,” Law Society President Tiana Epati said.

The Terms of Reference draft was put together by a seven-strong steering group introduced last year when the review was first announced.

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“It’s important that we get the Terms of Reference right as this will determine what issues will be examined and shape the recommendations made by the independent reviewer,” group chair Whaimutu Dewes said.

Dewes said that the independent review provided an opportunity to solidify the legal profession’s commitment to service.

“This review is also a chance to look ahead and ensure there is competition and innovation in the legal profession, and to strengthen the profession’s commitment to serving Aotearoa New Zealand today,” he said.

The Law Society’s functions and structure will be examined in the review as well.

“We want to be more transparent about our complaints process. However, under the current Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, we would be breaking the law if we commented on any details of complaints raised with us,” Epati said. “We have strengthened our ability to deal with unacceptable behaviour with changes to our rules which come into effect on 1 July 2021. But we need to ensure the statutory framework is fit for purpose now the Act is more than a decade old.”

The window for consultation will be open until 20 May. 

“This is only the first chance for input. Once the Terms of Reference are agreed and a reviewer appointed, there will be further consultation with members of the profession, representative groups, members of the public and interested parties,” Dewes said.

Feedback will be sourced via a survey on the Law Society’s website.

“We want a legal framework which ensures consumers are protected and the public will have trust and confidence in the legal profession,” Epati said.

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