The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has emailed all practising lawyers to assist them with providing proof when they are delivering essential services.
This follows advice from the Secretary for Justice to the Law Society that the courts and tribunals of New Zealand are considered essential services.
Therefore lawyers required to be involved in priority court and tribunals proceedings, in accordance with the Protocols, will provide legal services to support that essential business. Otherwise, legal services in and of themselves are not essential services, except to the extent they support essential business.
"This does not mean that other legal services must cease for lawyers who wish to continue working. To the extent that the provision of legal services means a lawyer does not leave their 'bubble', legal services could still be provided. This includes legal services that are otherwise ‘usual’ but also connected to COVID-19, for example helping people organise wills and powers of attorney,” the Secretary has advised.
Email to lawyers and identification
The email, from Law Society President Tiana Epati, says under the current COVID-19 Level 4 restrictions, lawyers who are outside of their homes may be stopped and asked to confirm that they are delivering essential services.
"The provision of legal services is essential to the effective functioning of the courts," she says. "Travel by lawyers for the purposes of attending to priority court proceedings is allowed. This includes travel to police stations and courts for the purposes of taking instructions from clients and attending hearings."
Ms Epati says the email can be shown to Police as proof that the holder is a practising lawyer.
"The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa also recommends that, when travelling for essential business, a lawyer carries with them photo identification, a business card (or letterhead), and documentation relevant to their reason for travel (eg, court documentation)."
Information about all lawyers who hold a current practising certificate is found on the Register of Lawyers. This is kept updated and shows only practising certificate holders. The email has been sent to all people on the Register.