The practising certificate renewal round is approaching with all current practising certificates lapsing on 30 June 2018.
You will shortly be emailed a guide for renewal. You will already have completed your CPD declaration which was due on 31 March 2018.
You will need to make a “fit and proper” declaration to renew your practising certificate for the 2018-2019 practising year. There is a range of matters that you are required to inform NZLS about if they have occurred since issue of your last practising certificate, or if there is any “fit and proper” matter you have not previously disclosed to the Law Society.
The declaration is in three parts.
The first is an undertaking to comply with the fundamental obligations of lawyers as set out in s 4 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (Act). In essence you are declaring that you are aware of these and are complying with them.
Section 4 reads as follows:
“Every lawyer who provides regulated services must, in the course of his or her practice, comply with the following fundamental obligations:
- to uphold the rule of law and to facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand;
- to be independent in providing regulated services to his or her clients;
- to act in accordance with all fiduciary duties and duties of care owed by lawyers to their clients;
- to protect, subject to his or her overriding duties as an officer of the High Court and to his or her duties under any enactment, the interests of his or her clients.”
The second part relates to any matter that does or might affect your fitness to be issued with a practising certificate (ss 41 and 55 of the Act). Some of the matters that you must declare include:
- any criminal conviction (if not previously brought to the Law Society’s attention) which has not been “clean slated” under the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004. This includes any excess breath alcohol conviction and any traffic offence that resulted in a conviction;
- any pending criminal charges (in New Zealand or overseas);
- any mental or physical health issues that might affect your ability to practice law;
- any significant financial issues, such as bankruptcy or liquidation/receivership of a company of which you are a director; and
- overseas/local disciplinary matters.
This part does not require you to declare any open complaints that are being considered by a Standards Committee or by the Legal Complaints Review Officer as the Law Society is already aware of these.
Thirdly, you must declare whether you are complying with any orders of a Standards Committee, the Legal Complaints Review Officer or the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
If you owe any outstanding costs or fines resulting from a disciplinary matter or have not complied with any other order you must declare this. If you have entered into a time payment arrangement and payments are up to date, there is no need to include this.
What will happen if I declare something?
Most matters will probably not be significant enough to prevent your new practising certificate issuing. If any matter needs investigation, you may be requested to provide further information and it may be referred to a Law Society Practice Approval Committee. You will be advised if this is the case. The Law Society may make other inquiries if it considers these to be relevant. This process can take some time to complete so please complete your declaration as soon as you are able. Any information relating to matters that you declare may also be provided to the Lawyers Complaints Service.
You are required to be open and frank in your declaration. If you are not sure whether to declare a matter it is usually better to err on the side of caution and include it.
There is no need to wait for the practising certificate renewal round if you have matters of concern to report. There is an ongoing obligation to advise NZLS of any matter that might affect your continuing eligibility to hold a practicing certificate. See Rule 8 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Practice Rules) Regulations 2008.
Paying for your practising certificate
Payment must also be made to complete the process. Payment must be made by or before 1 July 2018. If someone else in your organisation is attending to payment please ensure they do so prior to the due date. On 1 July your practising certificate will lapse and you will then have to apply for a new practising certificate rather than complete the renewal process. If you receive emails that you have not completed the process, please do not disregard these as they are only sent to lawyers who have not fully completed the process.
Your practising certificate will issue electronically. You do not need to print this off unless you would like a hard copy.
If you have any issue with making the online declaration or want to discuss any matter please call a member of the Registry Team on 0800 22 30 30 for helpful guidance and assistance.