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Letters to the Editor

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Intervention rule

I write in regard to Kathryn Beck’s article on the changes to the intervention rule at page 13 of LawTalk 866.

Ms Beck has comprehensively addressed the changes to the rule and how this affects barristers taking instructions in the employment context.

However Ms Beck’s article does not address the undue penalty that the intervention rule (old and new) currently imposes on barristers and their clients in the employment jurisdiction. Section 236(1) and (2) of the Employment Relations Act 2000, states that employers and employees are entitled to be represented by any person in respect of matters before the Employment Relations Authority and/or the Employment Court.

Those persons instructing a barrister in the Employment Court will be disadvantaged and put to undue cost if they are also required to obtain an instructing solicitor in order to continue their proceedings.

A barrister might combat this by saying that they are representing the party in a personal capacity as opposed to in their role as a barrister. But does this mean they are not subject to Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008?

Why are barristers treated differently to every other representative in respect to Employment Court proceedings?

There does not appear to be a convincing rationale for the intervention rule and the penalty it imposes on barristers and their clients in the employment jurisdiction. It is my opinion that there should not be an intervention rule for barristers in the employment law context.

Jeff Goldstein, Christchurch

Kathryn Beck replies

Mr Goldstein raises a very valid point. This is a matter that seems highly likely to be raised during the review of the new intervention rule, which is provided for in the new rules.

My brief for the article Mr Goldstein refers to was to provide an explanation of the new rule, rather than a critique of it.

I do note, however, is that the new rule has gone some way to improving the situation for barristers sole who practise employment law, and who are approved to take direct instructions. It has removed the requirement for an instructing solicitor for matters up to and including proceedings in the Employment Relations Authority and challenges to determinations of the Authority in the Employment Court. So, while the new exclusion does not cover all employment matters, it does cover a majority of work undertaken on a daily basis in the employment law area.


LawTalk plays an important role in keeping the profession up to date and I enjoy reading it. I ask however that you give lawyers the ability in the “lawyer login” section of the Law Society website to opt for an electronic copy instead of the paper magazine. I appreciate efforts have been made to source the paper and shrink wrap responsibly, but a circulation of around 12,500 paper magazines 23 times a year has a significant impact on the environment. Think ‘Law Whisper’ rather than ‘Law Talk’. If given the choice, many lawyers would prefer to be emailed an electronic copy, or could download it from the website.

Just think how much the annual saving for the Law Society would be if, say, 500 lawyers opted for an electronic copy.

Tim Turnbull, Christchurch

LawTalk Editor Frank Neill replies

Thank you very much, Mr Turnbull, for your kind words about LawTalk. The magazine is already available on the New Zealand Law Society’s website, at

It is available as either a “flip book” – which can be read on screen in any browser much as you would read an ebook – or as a PDF, which can be downloaded. We now place a link in LawPoints to the latest LawTalk the day before publication.

Not only is the current issue available, but people are able to access the LawTalk archive, which currently has all the issues dating back to LawTalk 809, dated 23 November 2012.

Lawyers receiving LawTalk would be most welcome to access it via our website and, if they would like, can choose not to receive the magazine in the post. Contact and let them know this is what you want.

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