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Community law centre bank contributions data not held

16 June 2017

The Ministry of Justice does not hold information on bank donations to community law centres, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says.

Green Party MP David Clendon has asked Mr Mitchell a series of questions relating to the Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund, which provides money to New Zealand's community law centres.

Mr Michell's response came in reply to Mr Clendon's question "What is the total amount, if any, that Community Law Centres o Aotearoa has received from banks in the last ten years in the form of donations, with the data broken down by year?".

The New Zealand Law Society's Report on Regulatory Activities for the year to 30 June 2016 states that New Zealand's 24 community law centres receive a large proportion of their funding from the Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund.

"Established in 1982, the fund collects interest from banks on solicitors' and licensed conveyancers' nominated trust accounts. The fund is vested in the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Society of Conveyancers jointly and is held by them in trust for the purposes specified in the [Lawyers and Conveyancers] Act," it says.

"The Act allows banks to retain 40% of the interest payable on nominated trust accounts. After deduction of that amount, the banks are required to pay the remainder to the Special Fund Management Committee, which comprises two people appointed by the Law Society and one person appointed by the Society of Conveyancers, with one of the Law Society appointees to be chairperson."

The report says that after deduction of adminstration expenses (disclosed by Mr Mitchell in response to another question from Mr Clendon) "the balance of the fund is paid to the Secretary for Justice for the purpose of funding community law centres".

Information from the New Zealand Law Society shows that interest received by the fund - which is paid to the Secretary for Justice after payment of administration expenses - was as follows:

Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund, year to 30 June
YearInterest receivedAdmin expenses
2016$7,335,000 $28,000
2015$6,862,000 $28,000
2014$5,894,000 $28,000
2013$5,466,000 $28,028
2012$4,807,000 $28,072
2011$4,157,000 $27,923
2010$4,067,000 $27,535

The Ministry of Justice's Annual Report for the year to 30 June 2016 shows that there was expenditure of $10,970,000 for Community Law Centres. This was slightly up on expenditure of $10,968,000 in the year to 30 June 2015.

The information indicates that the interest on solicitors' and licensed conveyancers' trust accounts contributed just under 67% of the Ministry of Justice's community law centre funding in the year to 30 June 2016, and 63% in the year to 30 June 2015.

Last updated on the 22nd June 2017