The annual renewal of practising certificates by New Zealand's lawyers is well underway, with about half of the legal profession having already completed their declaration of fitness to practise.
Lawyers' practising certificates are issued by the New Zealand Law Society annually for the year to 30 June. All lawyers who want to continue to practice will need to have renewed their practising certificate before 1 July 2016.
The renewal process is completed online. Lawyers are required to personally declare that no matter has arisen since receipt of their last practising certificate that does or might affect their fitness to be issued with a practising certificate.
This includes - but is not limited to - bankruptcy, directorship of a company that has been put into receivership or liquidation, conviction of an offence in New Zealand or overseas, disciplinary matters relating to another profession or occupation in New Zealand or overseas, and other matters set out in sections 41 and 55 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006.
Lawyers must also state that they undertake to comply with the fundamental obligations of lawyers as set out in section 4 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act.
- To uphold the rule of law and to facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand.
- To be independent in providing regulated services to their clients.
- To act in accordance with all fiduciary duties and duties of care owed by lawyers to their clients.
- To protect, subject to their overriding duties as officers of the High Court and to their duties under any enactment, the interests of their clients.
To obtain their practising certificate, lawyers must also pay the required practising fees and levies. Because the legal profession is regulated through the New Zealand Law Society, the practising fee must cover all costs and levies associated with regulation.
The fees and levies for the year to 30 June 2017 have been approved by Justice Minister Amy Adams. All lawyers are required to pay a practising fee of $1,192, a New Zealand Council of Legal Education levy of $25, and a Legal Complaints Review Officer levy of $125 (all excluding GST).
In addition, lawyers who are practising on own account are required to pay an inspectorate fee of $383 and a Lawyers Fidelity Fund Contribution of $320 (all excluding GST).
At 1 June 2016, 13,083 lawyers held practising certificates issued by the New Zealand Law Society.