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From the Law Society

28 April 2014

A new intervention rule was adopted by the New Zealand Law Society Council at its meeting on 11 April. This brings to fruition six years of work by the Law Society, and its finalisation fulfils one of my major objectives for 2014 as President of the Law Society.

The 2008 Rules of Conduct and Client Care, introduced following the passage of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, required that the Law Society review the intervention rule.

Under the rule as it stood then, a barrister sole had to accept instructions only from a solicitor and was not able to accept instructions directly from a lay client. There were exceptions to the rule but they were relatively narrow and limited to special instances and not ordinary instructions.

The Conduct and Client Care Rules required the Law Society to start the review within 18 months of the rules coming into force and to proceed with the review “with reasonable expedition having regard to all the circumstances”.

We have done just that. In fact, many people in the Law Society have been working hard on this matter over the last six years. As well as the work undertaken by the last three Law Society Presidents, the Board, the Council and Law Society staff, the Society undertook two major consultations with the profession in 2010 and 2011.

I would like to thank all those members of the profession who actively engaged with us during this consultation.

We have also consulted closely with a number of groups of people. These have included the New Zealand Bar Association and the Ministry of Justice.

It has been anything but an easy process to come up with a new intervention rule within an environment where there has been such a divergence of views within the profession. The views have ranged from complete abolition of the intervention rule to leaving it in place as it is still currently provided under the 2008 Rules of Conduct and Client Care.

So reaching a solution that would incorporate the views of as many interested people as possible has taken many thousands of hours of work, much of it voluntary. The Law Society is very grateful for this contribution to the profession and, on the Society’s behalf, I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the development of the new intervention rule.

In marked contrast to these many hours of work, the 11 April Council meeting took just 24 minutes from the time the agenda item came up to the time the new rule was adopted.

In a nutshell, the Council has resolved to have an intervention rule, but with a series of exceptions.

The proposed new rules, which will replace Rules 3.4 to 3.10 and 14.4 to 14.13 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Acts (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 are quite long. The Law Society is planning to provide training for the profession on the new rules and we will advise everyone about this in the near future.

The first step, however, is that the Law Society seeks the approval of the new rules from the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins.

Last updated on the 17th March 2016