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Public input sought on proposed Conduct and Client Care changes

01 July 2020

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa is now inviting public consultation into proposed lawyers’ Conduct and Client Care Rules changes around bullying and sexual harassment.

As part of its work to help create healthy, safe, respectful and inclusive legal workplaces, the Law Society is seeking consultation on proposed changes to the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (RCCC) and the (Lawyer: Ongoing Legal Education Continuing Professional Development) Rules 2013 (CPD).

“Our priority is to strengthen our ability, within our sphere of influence, to address unacceptable behaviours by lawyers and employees of law firms,’’ Law Society President Tiana Epati says.

The proposed RCCC and CDP rules changes are a significant step: for the first time, discrimination, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and other unacceptable conduct will be clearly defined; the threshold for reporting unacceptable conduct to the Law Society has been made clearer; and there will be rules to make it clear no one who makes a report or complaint should be victimised, she says.

Additionally, the proposed changes will require those who manage and operate law practices to provide a report each year, declaring that these issues are being managed appropriately.

The Law Society worked closely with the Government to explore options to change to the regulatory framework. “While changes to Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 were proposed, we were told this was not possible at this time. We therefore looked at the rules and regulations that applied to professionals both in New Zealand and overseas and sought advice from regulation and ethics experts.”

‘’While this took time, the proposed rules changes were informed by this advice as well as the work and recommendations of the Law Society’s Independent Regulatory Working Group chaired by Dame Silvia Cartwright, the 2018 Workplace Environment Survey and concerns and experiences courageously shared by many within the legal community.’’

Consultation with all stakeholders will be vital to developing robust and enduring Rule changes that support cultural change within the profession, Ms Epati says.

“These are significant issues for our profession – and these changes need to be developed by the profession for the profession to be effective. I strongly encourage everyone to have their say.”

Public consultation on the proposed rules changes was open until 5pm, 3 July 2020.

Further queries or additional feedback can be sent to the dedicated Law Society inbox: rulechangesfeedback@lawsociety.org.nz.

Pacific Lawyers Association invited to join Law Society Council

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has announced that it is delighted to welcome the Pacific Lawyers Association to the Law Society Council as independent observers, at the invitation of the President, Tiana Epati.

The Pacific Lawyers Association was established in 2001 and has the objective of promoting fellowship, mutual support and continuing legal education for Pacific lawyers, identifying and responding to the legal needs of Pacific communities, and promoting issues of relevance to Pacific lawyers and Pacific people. Members include law students and graduates, lawyers and members of the judiciary, who are of Pacific descent and/or who have Pacific affiliation.

Last updated on the 8th July 2020