New intervention rules
Some barristers sole are about to be given new possibilities in relation to how they practice. The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008, introduced following the passage of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, required that the Law Society review the intervention rule.
After a long period of consultation and discussion with the profession, a new proposed intervention rule was unanimously approved by the New Zealand Law Society Council at its meeting on 11 April 2014. The Council resolved to continue intervention rule requirements in certain areas rather than wholesale abolition. In addition, there is also a provision allowing for the review of the new rule. The proposed new rules, replace Rules 3.4 to 3.10 and 14.4 to 14.13 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Acts (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008.
The Law Society has received approval from the Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, for the amendments to the intervention rules. It is expected that the new rules will come into force in the new practising year and applications for approval may be made from 1 July 2015 (subject to final approval by the Council at its meeting on 10 April).
I was involved in the consultation process and I can say that endeavouring to come up with a new intervention rule when there has been such a divergence of views within the profession was not an easy task.
The views ranged from complete abolition of the intervention rule to leaving it in place as it is still currently provided under the 2008 Rules of Conduct and Client Care.
Many people in the Law Society and the wider profession have been working hard on this matter over the last six years. As well as the work undertaken by the last three Law Society Presidents, the Board, the Council and Law Society staff, the Society undertook two major consultations with the profession in 2010 and 2011. I believe the compromise reached addresses the areas of concern with the existing rule while at the same time maintaining the standards required of the profession.
Barristers sole will not be able to immediately start taking direct instructions from 1 July. Current barristers sole who want to take direct instructions will need to undertake training and apply for approval from the Law Society.
A webinar for current barristers sole who wish to apply to take direct instructions will be held at 1 pm on Monday 8 June. The presenters are Dr Duncan Webb, Miriam Dean QC, Noel Sainsbury and me. The Law Society will take applications from barristers sole seeking to accept direct instructions from 1 July 2015 (full details will be on the Law Society’s website from that date). Detailed information about the changes and how to apply will be on the Law Society’s website from mid-April and barristers sole will be emailed directly.