New Zealand Law Society - COVID-19

COVID-19

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa would like to acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lawyers’ participation in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities and the impending end of the CPD year.

We wish to confirm the CPD year ended on 31 March 2020, however, remind everyone that there is provision for declarations to be made within 5 working days of this date, by 7 April 2020. We encourage people to continue to work towards this date for submitting their declaration. We recognise the majority of practitioners will have completed their CPD requirements for the 2019/20 CPD year (1 April 2019-31 March 2020) and will be in a position to file their declaration in the normal manner. At present over 80% of lawyers have completed their declarations and we expect this figure to increase in the coming days.

We also acknowledge the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact this may have had on CPD events practitioners were planning to attend here or overseas. For this reason, the postponement or cancellation of any CPD event, group gathering or other CPD activity due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19 will be accepted as a satisfying exceptional circumstance for the purposes of rule 7.5 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Ongoing Legal Education – Continuing Professional Development) Rules 2013.

If you consider you have valid grounds to claim the deferral of any outstanding CPD hours for the 2019/2020 year as a result of this exceptional circumstance, please complete the deferment form. You will need to confirm the reasons why a deferral is sought and provide any relevant supporting information. A deferral means you will be able to defer the completion of any outstanding hours into the subsequent CPD year (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021). Once a deferment is granted, you will be able to complete your online CPD declaration to confirm that you have met your requirements for the current CPD year.

The above COVID-19 exception will not restrict your ability to claim a deferment for any other valid exceptional circumstance. If you are unable to complete your declaration within five working days of 31 March 2020, you are also able to file a late declaration. Further information on deferrals and late declarations is available.

As we look towards the coming CPD year and the ongoing effects of COVID-19, lawyers may also wish to consider the means by which they complete their CPD requirements. We are fortunate that technologies allow us to participate in e-learning opportunities, webinars, writing activities and also study groups, mentoring, coaching or one-to-one instruction conducted via audio or video conferencing. It is likely education providers will increase their online offerings to compensate for the reduction in face-to-face learning opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I was due to complete X hours at X conference/seminar/event which has been cancelled, and there’s no CPD offerings that will meet my needs before the CPD declaration deadline – what do I do?

You can apply for a deferment of any outstanding hours by completing the application form. Tell us what you missed out on and why in your explanation of the exceptional circumstances. It’s important that you apply for a deferment as soon as possible so that we can confirm your hours will be deferred and you can make your declaration on time.

I was booked to attend X but they’ve put it on hold/postponed for now. They’re hoping to be able to host the event later this year – what do I do?

You can apply for a deferment of any outstanding hours by completing the application form. Tell us what you missed out on and why in your explanation of the exceptional circumstances. It’s important that you apply for a deferment as soon as possible so that we can confirm your hours will be deferred and you can make your declaration on time. It’s also important that you keep up to date with developments and don’t rely on events being available at a later date; the COVID-19 pandemic may last longer than we anticipate so you may need to complete your requirements via different means, such as e-learning.

I was due to present at a seminar/conference/event that has been cancelled/postponed can I still count my preparation hours towards my CPD?

In order for an activity to be counted towards your CPD, it needs to fit the definition of activities in the Rules and align with your learning needs. Unfortunately, without the presentation of an end product, preparation towards a presentation may not be able to be counted. However, you might be able to use your preparation to write an article or essay for a law journal or similar, or there may be the possibility of presenting remotely – both of these options might allow you to adapt your preparation work into a product that may be able to be counted towards your CPD requirements.

We have a study group, but we’ve been unable to meet because of employer restrictions on group gatherings – what can I do?

You might like to consider meeting remotely and connecting either via video conferencing (such as Zoom or Skype) or on the phone. This might also allow you the opportunity to have a study group with members from different areas in New Zealand, or the world.

If you have any other questions about the impact of COVID-19 on CPD, you are welcome to contact the Law Society.

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