Tiana Epati, the President of the New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa, has expressed her disappointment a lawyer is accused of breaching the Auckland lockdown to travel to Wanaka. It is unknown whether a travel letter for lawyers was involved in this incident.
To avoid doubt, the Law Society wishes to make it clear that lawyers are not essential workers. Rather, to facilitate appropriate access to justice, it was agreed with the Ministry of Justice and Police that lawyers would be provided with a letter which states that travel by lawyers is allowed but only for the purposes of attending priority court proceedings.
In the letter we recommended lawyers carry with them documentation, such as court documents, to prove their reason for travel. The Law Society expects this letter to be used only for the purpose it was provided.
It is the role of the Standards Committee to determine the response to any complaints and consider if a formal investigation is required. The usual process is for disciplinary matters to be put on hold pending the outcome of a police investigation and court processes to be completed.
Standards Committees are independent bodies of lawyers and lay persons established to consider and investigate complaints against, and the conduct of, lawyers.
For more information about standards committees and the complaints and disciplinary processes visit this webpage.
The Law Society will not be commenting further on this particular matter.