In March 2006 Parliament passed the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, which replaced the Law Practitioners Act 1982. The Act governs the way legal and conveyancing services in New Zealand are delivered and regulated.
The Act established the New Zealand Society of Conveyancers (NZSC), which regulates conveyancers. The New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) continues to regulate law practitioners.
The Ministry of Justice administers the Legal Complaints Review Officer (LCRO) and the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal (LCDT).
Complaints and discipline
The complaints and disciplinary provisions of the Act were introduced to ensure that quality, consistent and effective determinations are made when dealing with alleged breaches in the delivery of services from lawyers and conveyancers.
A three part system
The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 created a comprehensive complaints and disciplinary process for lawyers, conveyancers, employees, firms, and their clients.
It has three main parts:
- Part 1: The establishment of the Standards Committees of the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Society of Conveyancers.
- Part 2: The establishment of the Legal Complaints Review Officer.
- Part 3: The establishment of the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
Purpose of the Act
The purpose of the Act is to:
- promote and maintain public confidence in the delivery of legal and conveyancing services
- protect consumers and ensure a trusted and accessible justice system for clients of lawyers and conveyancers
- recognise the status of the professions that provide legal and conveyancing services.
Key reasons for the change
- To provide comprehensive consumer protection for clients of lawyers and conveyancers.
- To provide regulations and a governing body for conveyancers.
- To provide an independent review process for complaints and disciplinary matters.
- Complaints about 'standard of service' were unable to be heard.
- Lay observers (who reviewed cases that had been dealt with by the former complaints process) could only recommend and had no powers to make a determination.