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Property law source of most complaints

26 February 2018

Complaints relating to property law made up 23% of all complaints lodged with the New Zealand Law Society's Lawyers Complaints Service in the year to 30 June 2017.

This is shown in the Law Society's Report on Regulatory Activities for the year to 30 June 2017. The report was made to the Minister of Justice in December 2017 and has now been tabled in Parliament. 

In the 2016/17 year 1419 complaints against members of the legal profession were lodged. This continued the trend for fewer complaints to be lodged, down from 1459 in 2015/16, 1611 in 2014/15 and 1630 in 2013/14.

The areas of law most relevant to personal circumstances were those where most complaints arose in the latest year. After complaints relating to property law came trusts and estates (17.0% of all complaints lodged) and family law (17.8%).

The report says that of the complaints which were closed during 2016/17, 75% resulted in a decision to take no further action. When complaints which were resolved by negotiation, conciliation or mediation, plus those which were withdrawn are included, 84% of all complaints investigated resulted in no further action being required.

Complaints closed by the Early Resolution Service, which was established in 2013, took an average of 28 days to resolution, with the average time to conclude standard track complaints was 231 days. The overall average time to conclude all complaints which were closed in 2016/17 was 148 days, down from an average of 160 days the previous year.

The report notes that in the year to 30 June 2017 there were 1425 law practices operating trust accounts. The New Zealand Law Society's Inspectorate team conducted reviews of almost 30% of these during the year. It referred 17 reports from the reviews to the Lawyers Complaints Service.

Just under half (47%) of the complaints lodged with the Lawyers Complaints Service were lodged by clients or former clients of lawyers. Another 17% were lodged by clients of other parties and 8% by lawyers. Just over 7% of complaints were initiated by the New Zealand Law Society on its own motion.

Last updated on the 26th February 2018