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Certificate of Character

Under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 and the LCA (Lawyers: Admission) Rules 2008, if you are seeking admission as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court under s49(2) or (3), you must apply to the Law Society for a certificate of character.

A certificate of character certifies that you are a fit and proper person to be admitted as a barrister and solicitor.

A certificate of character can be used to seek admission in any High Court during its period of validity. The certificate of character should be valid on the date of your admission.

You may apply to a Law Society branch of your choice. You should start the process after you have completed your professionals course, and three months ahead of the date of the proposed admission ceremony. If you need to make any disclosures to the Law Society, you should start the process four months ahead of the proposed admission ceremony. Refer to Part 8 of the application form to see whether this applies to you.

Application

An application for a certificate of character must:

  • be on the prescribed form
  • be accompanied by the fee
  • include referee reports (sent independently by the referee) and all other required documents

The documents listed above must be provided in order to complete the application. However all referees, overseas regulatory authorities, the Ministry of Justice etc must provide relevant documents directly to the Society. Documents (except passport details) must be originals. Copies will not be accepted.

Please note that the application and references will lapse if the process is not complete after 3 months. You may be required to refresh your documentation. 

Payment

The NZLS fee is $253 (inc. GST). You are able to pay by credit card or cheque. Cheques should be made out to the New Zealand Law Society.

Advertising your name to the profession

When you apply for a certificate of character, the Law Society will advertise your name in media at its discretion. Any person wishing to comment on your conduct and fitness may do so directly to the branch within the time specified.

Process

You are responsible for ensuring that all documentation is provided to the relevant branch office in time.

When all the documentation is complete, the branch will process your application and issue you with a certificate of character. You should then file your certificate of character along with the other admission documents in the High Court. Check the Admissions information for details.

If a branch is inclined to refuse to issue a certificate of character, it will refer your application to the national office to be considered by a Practice Approval Committee (PAC).

If the PAC declines to issue you with a certificate, you may still apply for admission directly to the High Court. However if your application does not include a certificate of character, you must serve a copy of the application on the Law Society (National Office) within two days of filing in the High Court – Rule 6, LCA (Lawyers: Admission) Rules 2008. The Society will, within 21 days of receiving the copy of your application, serve on you a notice of opposition stating the grounds on which the application is opposed and include any affidavits in support and as necessary. Your application will be determined by the High Court.

Last updated on the 3rd June 2015