The Ministry of Justice has asked for the following information to be circulated to the family law profession.
From 21 November, the initial commitment hours for s 7 (Care of Children Act 2004) and s 159 (Oranga Tamariki Act 1989) Lawyer for Child appointments have been increased to 22 hours nationwide.
All other Lawyer for Child commitments will remain at the current hours.
Why is this change happening?
Commitment amounts for Lawyer for Child have been reviewed. Analysis has shown that the average appointment length for s 7 and s 159 appointments is 22 hours (excluding Oranga Tamariki Reviews). This will be applied as the standard nationwide initial commitment hours going forward.
What does this mean for me?
From 21 November letters of appointments under s 7 (Care of Children Act 2004) and s 159 (Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 – excluding Reviews) will show the new initial commitment of 22 hours.
This should reduce the amount of appointments for which Lawyers for Child are required to apply for an extension.
Appointments made before this change are still subject to the financial commitment made at the time of appointment. The increased commitment hours will not apply retrospectively, and extensions will need to be applied for as per current practise.
To further help us with our management of financial commitments, please ensure to mark invoices as ‘Final’ when your appointment is completed. Please make sure this is indicated on the invoice itself, rather than in the accompanying email.
If you require further information, please contact your local Family Court co-ordinator.