Under the former Rule 15.2.4 (Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008) an in-house lawyer could provide regulated services only to their employer. However, where the employer was a company, the in-house lawyer could also provide regulated services to other companies in the same group as the employer.
The rule was amended to enable in-house lawyers (and their employing organisations) to provide legal services to entities with various degrees of relationship to the employer. The in-house lawyers section of the Law Society (ILANZ) asked the Law Society Board to consider changing the narrow scope of the existing rule. After careful consideration, the Board instituted a consultation on proposed rule amendments which could be achieved within the present framework.
The submissions received in the consultation and the overall position were considered by a Shared Services Working Group established by the Board. The Working Group supported the draft rule amendments. Following consideration of the submissions, it came to the view that the amendments should allow an in-house lawyer to provide legal advice to another entity where the employer entity owns not less than 50% of the other entity or can exercise at least 50% of the control of that other entity.
The amendments to the rules were adopted by the Law Society Council on 15 April 2016 with the approval of the Minister of Justice.