New Zealand Law Society - Independent Review Panel appointed

Independent Review Panel appointed

Independent Review Panel appointed
Left to right: Professor Ron Paterson, Professor Jacinta Ruru, Jane Meares.

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has today announced a highly experienced panel to conduct the independent review to examine the regulation and representation of legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Law Society has appointed Professor Ron Paterson as Chair and Jane Meares and Professor Jacinta Ruru as Members of the Independent Review Panel. 

The panel members were reviewed and recommended by the Independent Steering Group, chaired by Whaimutu Dewes. 

“I am delighted we have secured a panel of this calibre to conduct the review.  They are each rangatira in their own right. Collectively they bring together all the skills we need to do this work,” Law Society President Tiana Epati said. 

The Law Society launched the Independent Review last year on the back of two key drivers:  

  • The ability of the Law Society to be more effective with its complaints system and to deal with a range of unacceptable behaviour, including complaints of sexual harassment and bullying.
  • To ensure the statutory framework is still fit-for-purpose given the changes that have occurred in the legal profession and in regulatory good practice since the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (the Act) came into force.

“This is the most significant independent review of the statutory framework which governs the legal profession in our generation, Ms Epati said.

“It is the opportunity for us to give deep consideration to what change is needed to enable a fit-for-purpose statutory and regulatory environment that provides for a modern, efficient, and high-integrity legal profession for all New Zealanders. 

“It lets us look at what is needed to ensure fair competition for legal services, to enable innovation in the profession and to strengthen commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the diverse multicultural society we live in. 

“Over the last year the Law Society has done a great deal of preparation work for this review.  We have been methodical, careful, and consulted widely to ensure the Terms of Reference were right.  Now it is time for us as a profession to lean in,” Ms Epati said. 

The Review Panel will examine whether the Law Society’s representative functions should be separated from some, or all, of our regulatory functions, how unacceptable conduct is prevented and addressed in the profession, how complaints are made and responded to and which legal services are regulated and by whom. 

The Review Panel will deliver its report to the Law Society by the end of 2022. Following receipt of its report and recommendations, the Law Society will provide a response and that response and the report will be delivered to Government in the first half of 2023.

Professor Ron Paterson, Chair 

Professor Paterson ONZM is Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and former Health and Disability Commissioner and Ombudsman. He has chaired several major inquiries in New Zealand and Australia, including the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, and brings expertise in the regulation of professions, complaint systems and consumer protection. 

Jane Meares, Panel member 

Ms Meares is a barrister at Clifton Chambers, Chief Commissioner of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, Chair of Financial Services Complaints Limited, Deputy Chair of the Electoral Commission and a Member of the LINZ Risk and Assurance Committee. She has extensive experience in legal practice and review and inquiry expertise and is motivated to be part of a significant opportunity for change in the legal profession. 

Professor Jacinta Ruru, Panel member  

Professor Ruru MNZM, FRSNZ (Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui) is a Professor of Law and University of Otago inaugural Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair. She is a member of Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa, the Māori Law Society. Professor Ruru brings an excellent understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and is focused on bringing it to life in the legal profession. She has good experience in high-profile Ministerial reviews, advisory groups and governance boards.