New Zealand Law Society - Complaints against lawyers continue to fall, says NZLS report

Complaints against lawyers continue to fall, says NZLS report

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Complaints against lawyers continued to reduce, the New Zealand Law Society's annual report on its regulatory activities for the year to 30 June 2016 says.

The report was tabled in Parliament on 24 January 2017. It shows that there were 1,363 complaints lodged against lawyers in 2015/16 - falling 11.3% from 1,536 in 2011/12. At the same time the number of practising lawyers has risen by 10.5%.

The areas of law in which most complaints arose in 2015/16 were property (20.8% of all complaints), trusts and estates (17.5%), family (15.9%) and civil litigation (13.0%).

The report says a final decision that no action was required was reached in 87% of complaints which were investigated and resolved in 2015/16.

The Law Society's General Manager, Regulatory, Mary Ollivier says the Law Society's Regulatory Division is continually aiming to refine and benchmark its processes to deliver seamless regulation of lawyers in New Zealand.

"In carrying out its regulatory functions the protection of the consumer of legal services is paramount," she says.

Mrs Ollivier says the "welcome reduction" in the number of complaints may be due to a number of factors. These include education of lawyers through regular publication of lawyers standards committee decisions, initial assistance provided to complainants by an 0800 complaints line, the ability to lodge a concern which may be resolved informally, and lawyers having better internal complaints handling processes.