The annual report of the Legal Complaints Review Officer for 2016/17 says at 30 June 2017 532 applications for review were active.
Of these, 68 (12.8%) were prior to July 2014, 82 (15.4%) were from July 2014 to June 2015, 172 (32.3%) were from July 2015 to June 2016, and the remaining 210 (39.5%) had been lodged in the 12 months to 30 June 2017.
There were 600 active applications at the end of the year to 30 June 2016.
The LCRO's role is to independently review decisions made by New Zealand Law Society and New Zealand Society of Conveyancers standards committees on complaints against lawyers and conveyancers.
In an overview of the year to 30 June 2017, LCRO Rex Maidment says the task of managing a "formidable backlog" of cases continues to present as the biggest challenge facing the Office.
He says changes proposed in the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill before Parliament will directly address the concerns that have been identified by the LCRO in the past.
"It is hoped that the bill will be accorded a degree of priority as many of the changes proposed would unquestionably have a significant and positive impact on the ability of the Office to reduce its backlog of cases and assist it in achieving its statutory obligation to ensure that reviews are determined expeditiously," Mr Maidment says.
Over the year to 30 June 2017 the LCRO received 252 applications for review, down from 290 applications in the previous year.
It completed 320 reviews, compared with 271 in the previous year. Of the 320 reviews completed, 16% were completed within six months, 10% were completed within six to 12 months, and 74% were completed in over 12 months.
The report says in the 2016/17 year, the LCRO confirmed 189 decisions of lawyers standards committees. It confirmed but modified 20 decisions, reversed or partially reversed 26 decisions, referred 10 decisions back to the standards committee for reconsideration, declined 4 reviews for lack of jurisdiction, and 71 reviews were withdrawn or settled by way of agreement between the parties.