New Zealand Law Society - Hopeful signs for relief of LCRO backlog

Hopeful signs for relief of LCRO backlog

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Frustrations arising from the substantial backlog of matters before the Legal Complaints Review Officer (LCRO) could be addressed soon, New Zealand Law Society Executive Director Christine Grice says.

The independent LCRO reviews decisions of lawyers’ standards committees. The LCRO has reported problems with its resourcing and this has contributed to delays of more than a year for over 60% of complaints it receives.

“The delays are obviously concerning to the New Zealand Law Society,” Miss Grice says.

“We have put much time and effort into streamlining and improving the time taken by the Lawyers Complaints Service to resolve complaints and the holdups at the LCRO have worried us for some time.”

Miss Grice says the Law Society has been engaged in discussions with the Ministry of Justice and the LCRO on how the problems can be alleviated.

“Everyone involved has agreed that some legislative adjustments are needed, along with some other process improvements which are already being looked at,” she says.

“It’s clearly very important for lawyers and their clients that practical and lasting solutions are implemented to sort out the backlogs. From the discussions we have had we are now hopeful that changes are in the pipeline which will enable efficiencies.”

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 requires New Zealand lawyers to fund the LCRO. Miss Grice said the New Zealand Law Society has raised the levy from all lawyers by $40, from $75 to $115, for the next practising year which commences on 1 July.

“This has been done in response to an increase in costs budgeted by the Ministry of Justice as the result of planned new measures to address the issues,” she says.

“This, along with the information we have been given in our discussions, makes me very hopeful that significant improvements are on their way.

“The LCRO and his deputies have been working hard to reduce the caseload and have made some inroads.”

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