Proposed changes to the law governing the Legal Complaints Review Officer (LCRO) are essential and it is hoped they can be implemented as quickly as possible, the New Zealand Law Society says.
“Over 500 applications remain active with the LCRO. It can take up to three years for a decision to be made and the introduction of the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill is therefore extremely welcome,” New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck says.
“The backlog of cases before the LCRO must be fixed. It is extremely stressful for all those people – lawyers and clients – who are waiting for a resolution.”
Ms Beck says the bill now before Parliament will give the LCRO new powers to hear appropriate matters on the papers and to strike out meritless complaints.
“The Law Society has been an advocate of these amendments for some time and it is pleasing that changes are on the way.
“There have been improvements and further resources provided to the LCRO but important procedural issues have been addressed in the bill which can not be dealt with in the absence of legislation.
“With an election coming and the bill still to be referred to a select committee and considered by Parliament, it is clear this will not be an overnight fix. It is, however, a start to mending something which has been broken for several years.”
The Legal Complaints Review Officer is administered by the Ministry of Justice but funded by a levy on all lawyers and conveyancers. Its role is to review decisions made by the Law Society and Society of Conveyancers standards committees on complaints against lawyers and conveyancers.
The LCRO’s annual report for the year to 30 June 2016 was tabled in Parliament yesterday.