New Zealand Law Society - Just under half of complaints made by clients

Just under half of complaints made by clients

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Just under half the complaints made to the Lawyers Complaints Service in 2014/15 were made by clients or former clients of the lawyer concerned.

Information included in the annual report on the regulatory functions of the New Zealand Law Society for the year to 30 June 2015 shows that trusts and estates were the main area of law where complaints arose, followed by family law and property law.

During the year to 30 June 2015 there were 1611 complaints received by the Lawyers Complaints Service. This was down on the 1630 complaints received in the previous year.

The highest number of complaints related to negligence or incompetence. Next was inadequate reporting or communications, followed by overcharging.

During the year, 1529 complaints were closed, with a decision to take no further action in 1137 of these (74.3%), 143 (9.3%) were resolved after being referred to negotiation, conciliation or mediation and 64 (4.2%) were withdrawn, discontinued or settled. The remaining 12.2% of complaints closed resulted in orders or decisions by lawyers standards committees.

The report notes that 41.3% of all complaints closed were concluded through the Early Resolution Service, an initiative established in early 2013 and aimed at achieving a resolution by negotiation.

Origin of complaints lodged with Lawyers Complaints Service, year to 30 June

Origin2015% 20152014% 2014
Client/former client76847.7%81249.8%
Client - other side27917.3%30919.0%
Third party19011.8%16610.2%
NZLS standards committee own motion1227.6%976.0%
Regulatory authority70.4%20.1%

Main areas of law in which complaint arose, year to 30 June 2015

AreaPercent Complaints
Trusts and estates21.0%
Civil litigation13.2%
Banking and finance1.3%

Type of complaint, year to 30 June 2015
(more than one order might be made per complaint)

Inadequate reporting/communications431
Breach of Rules of Conduct and Client Care325
Failure to follow instructions248
Misleading conduct228
Unbecoming conduct191
Other conduct issues190
Conflict of interest182
Other service issues120
Acting without instruction88
Refusing to hand over documents77
Financial assurance issues61
Improper conduct in Court56
Breach of confidentiality53
Not complying with Lawyers and Conveyancers Act/Regulations46
Obstructing legal regulatory process38
Breach of undertaking22
Lack of supervision20
Failure to comply with an order15
Related to nominee company15
Failing to pay instructed third party11
Criminal conviction10
Failure to pay third party7
Practising outside of practising certificate parameters2
Not admitted to practice2