New Zealand Law Society - Rule of Law a key priority for Law Society

Rule of Law a key priority for Law Society

As part of its extensive advocacy work, the New Zealand Law Society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has a number of law reform committees which cover all areas of law. These influential committees provide critical advice and input when law change is being considered, and encourage the involvement and engagement of Law Society members with appropriate expertise.

A recent review of the structure of the various law reform committees was undertaken with the goal of making any necessary improvements before the 2023 committee renewal process.  

As a result of the review, the Law Society decided to amalgamate two committees because of significant overlap and duplication. The Public and Administrative Law Committee and the Rule of Law Committee have been combined to form the Public Law Committee. All members of the Rule of Law Committee have been invited to join the Public Law Committee.  

Law Society President Frazer Barton says “Rule of Law is an absolutely critical area for the Law Society. It’s part of our statutory role and one of our strategic priorities.” 

“Rule of Law is the number one item in the amended terms of reference for the new Public Law Committee. We expect this to be a cornerstone of our ongoing advocacy work. “ 

“As the peak national body representing nearly 16,000 lawyers, the Law Society is the voice that other organisations reach out to and listen to. The law reform committees provide expert advice to the Board and President, and through the review we wanted to bolster our efforts to make the most of the expertise and valuable input that our committee members provide.” 

The review of the Law Reform Committees found that: 

  • There were some areas of significant overlap and duplication (particularly across the Public and Administrative Law Committee and Rule of Law Committee), and some areas where there is not regular law reform work (ACC and Health). 
  • An International Legal Issues Committee should be established. 
  • Disability law is not currently covered by any committee. While it falls within the Health Law Committee, it ought to be better signposted. 
  • Access to justice, as a key strategic imperative for the Law Society, could be more visible within the specialist committee structure. The Legal Services Committee needed to be renamed to ensure it was clear the role of the committee focused on access to justice. 
  • Terms of reference needed to be standardised. These are useful for describing the relevant areas in which a committee works, while also being clear about their advisory roles as committees of the Board. 
  • Terms or conditions of appointment are commonplace for similar committees overseas. At present, information about responsibilities and obligations is found in multiple locations.  
  • Other ancillary improvements are necessary, including making the Climate Change Law Subcommittee permanent, and increasing membership of some committees with large workloads. 

As part of the review process, the Law Society sought feedback from committee members, with some additional steps to be taken in order to address the concerns raised by the feedback.  

The Law Society is currently advertising for expressions of interest of all its law reform committees, and we encourage our members to get involved with their peak national body.  

Read more and apply here