The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa (the Law Society) has commissioned an Independent Review of the statutory framework for legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand (the Review) to examine the regulation and representation of legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand, including the structure and functions of the Law Society.
Final Terms of Reference for the Independent Review of the statutory framework for legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand (the Review) have been released by the Independent Steering Group (the Steering Group).
The Terms of Reference now incorporate feedback from the public and the profession during a consultation held in April and May 2021.
Consultation confirmed the areas of scope for the Review as:
The main changes to the Terms of Reference
Te Tiriti o Waitangi, inclusion and diversity
Consideration of Te Ao Māori frameworks and inclusion and diversity has been strengthened as areas for examination within the regulatory and organisational frameworks.
There is now a clear distinction between direct government regulation (out of scope in accordance with the commitment to uphold the rule of law), but that consideration of an independent entity with regulatory functions such as a legal ombudsman or a tribunal is in scope.
Culture, safety, health, and wellbeing
The Review objective of the health and wellbeing of legal professionals has been extended to include a culture of safety, and to strengthen the theme of culture, safety, health, and wellbeing as an area for examination, particularly in the areas of conduct and vexatious complaints. The Review will also examine the role of the Law Society in promoting a positive workplace culture.
The Steering Group also made changes to the Terms of Reference in response to feedback to:
Feedback indicated that the proposed Terms of Reference were largely supported. An average of 73% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed across all the questions. Feedback was centred around providing greater clarity on some matters, minor wording changes, or broadening of the proposed scope.
Across all questions an average of 15% of respondents were neutral, and an average 12% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Their feedback was mainly centred on satisfaction with current arrangements, and not wishing to extend the reach of the Law Society.
The Steering Group received 624 survey responses to the proposed Terms of Reference and nine written submissions.
The Steering Group will appoint a reviewer to conduct the review. The reviewer will be appointed by the end of this year.