The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Complaints Service and Standards Committees) Regulations 2008 provide for the establishment of lawyers standards committees to consider complaints.
There are 22 standards committees. Each committee comprises up to seven lawyer members and two lay members who are appointed by the Law Society Board, for terms of two or three years. Convenors and deputy convenors are also appointed. A quorum is a majority of members but must have at least two lawyer members and one lay member.
The Regulations provide for two national standards committees, to be established in Wellington. One has been established. Criteria have been set down for when these committees would consider complaints. These include complaints that involve investigation in two or more localities or those that are sufficiently major/complex or of such public interest or importance to the profession that resolution is likely to be facilitated by reference to a national committee.
Reserve committees may be appointed from time to time in areas nominated by the Board.
As well as considering complaints, the standards committees have power to intervene in legal practices and to commence own motion inquiries.