New Zealand Law Society - Complaints and discipline

Complaints and discipline

The New Zealand Law Society is responsible for regulating lawyers who practice law in New Zealand and operates the Lawyers Complaints Service. The Service handles all complaints about:

  • A lawyer or a former lawyer;
  • An incorporated law firm or a former incorporated law firm;
  • Someone who is not a lawyer but who is or was an employee of a lawyer or an incorporated law firm.

All lawyers must have procedures for handling complaints and they must tell their clients about those procedures before they commence work for the client.

Standards and the legal profession

New Zealand lawyers are required to act at all times in accordance with the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008. The Rules are based on the fundamental obligations of lawyers. These are:

  • To uphold the rule of law and to facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand.
  • To be independent in providing regulated services to clients.
  • To act in accordance with all fiduciary duties and duties of care owed by lawyers to their clients.
  • To protect, subject to overriding duties as officers of the High Court and to duties under any enactment, the interests of clients.

Whatever legal services you provide, you must:

  • Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
  • Protect and promote your client's interests and act for them free from compromising influences or loyalties.
  • Discuss with your client their objectives and how they should best be achieved.
  • Give your client information about the work to be done, who will do it, and the way the services will be provided.
  • Charge your client a fee that is fair and reasonable and let them know how and when they will be billed.
  • Give your client clear information and advice.
  • Protect your client's privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
  • Treat your client fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
  • Keep your client informed about the work being done and advise them when it is completed.
  • Let them know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.

If you do not meet these standards, your client can raise the matter directly with you through your internal complaints process. If this does not resolve matters, they can consider laying a complaint with the Lawyers Complaints Service.

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