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Lawyers and conveyancers' fund provides bulk of community law centre funding

27 June 2019

Revenue from the Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund contributed 84.2% of the total funding provided to community law centres in the year to 31 May 2019.

The information was provided by Justice Minister Andrew Little in response to written parliamentary questions from National MP Mark Mitchell.

Details of total monthly funding released by Mr Little show that in the year to 31 May 2019, community law centres were provided with a total of $12,908,154.51 in funding.

In response to another question from Mr Mitchell, information from Mr Little showed that funding received from the Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund in the year to 31 May 2019 totalled $10,870,063.43.

Mr Little notes that community law centres do not receive funding directly from the Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund.

"This funding is received by the Ministry of Justice, and the Crown contribution tops it up to the appropriated amount, which is then allocated to the community law centres."

The Government has just announced an increase in community law centre funding of $8.72 million over the next four years. It says this will bring total annual funding for the 24 centres to $13.26 million.

Funding provided to community law centres by month
MonthTotal fundingSpecial Fund
The Special Fund

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund was established in 1982. It collects interest from banks on solicitors' and licensed conveyancers' nominated trust accounts. The fund is vested in the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Society of Conveyancers and is held by them in trust for the purposes specified by Part 9 of  the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006.

The Act allows banks to retain 40% of the interest payable on nominated trust accounts. After deduction of that amount, the banks are required to pay the remainder to the Special Fund Management Committee. This comprises two people appointed by the New Zealand Law Society and one person appointed by the Society of Conveyancers.

It is not known how many licensed conveyancers there are in New Zealand. The New Zealand Society of Conveyancers website lists around 26 conveyancers and annual reports are not available. The bulk of the contributions to the Special Fund appear to come from trust accounts operated by legal practitioners.

The New Zealand Law Society's annual report to the Minister of Justice for the year to 30 June 2018 states (at page 44) that interest received by the Fund in the year to 30 June 2018 was $9,346,000, with $28,000 in administration expenses.

Interest received by Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund, year ended 30 June
YearInterest receivedAdministration expenses

Last updated on the 16th September 2019