New Zealand Law Society - Committee unable to agree on whether Ombudsmen bill should be passed

Committee unable to agree on whether Ombudsmen bill should be passed

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The Governance and Administration select committee has reported on the Ombudsmen (Protection of Name) Amendment Bill but cannot agree on whether to recommend it be passed. The committee recommends that some amendments be passed.

The bill seeks to restrict the use of the name “Ombudsman” to an Ombudsman appointed under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, or a person appointed to a position established by the Chief Ombudsman, or a public sector department or organisation approved by the Minister of Justice.

The Committee considered 11 submissions and heard evidence from six submitters, including the Chief Ombudsman.

The savings provisions in clause 2(2) of new Schedule 1AA would allow the Banking Ombudsman Scheme Ltd and the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme Inc to continue to use “Ombudsman” in their names, since they have previously obtained the Chief Ombudsman’s consent to do so.

However, neither organisation would be able to continue to use “Ombudsman” if they changed their name in future. The committee heard concerns that the wording of this clause would mean that neither entity could change its corporate structure in future, because the provision refers to them as “Limited” and “Incorporated”. This was not the bill’s intent, so the committee recommends amending clause 2 of new Schedule 1AA so that these two entities may change their corporate structure and continue to use the name “Banking Ombudsman” and “Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman” respectively.

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