New rules governing the behaviour of lawyers, with an emphasis on tackling bullying and harassment, came into force on 1 July. The changes amended the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (RCCC).
The amended rules include:
The Rules can be read in full on legislation.govt.nz.
The Law Society has produced guidance to help lawyers to understand the new obligations. The guidance is also intended to support and empower people who are affected by prohibited behaviour. Consultation on the guidance is now open.
All lawyers are required to report to the Law Society if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that another lawyer may have engaged in misconduct. Under rules 2.8 and 2.9:
Under rule 2.8.4 (b) mandatory reporting does not apply to victims of suspected misconduct.
Law practices must notify the Law Society within 14 days if any person is issued a written warning or dismissed for bullying, discrimination or harassment. Law practices must report if any person leaves before an investigation is completed.
Law practices need to nominate a designated lawyer who will be required to report on an annual basis about compliance with their reporting obligations and employment policies. Further information will be provided closer to 1 July 2022 when the first annual certification is due.
On 3 May 2021 the Law Society’s General Manager Professional Standards, Katie Rusbatch, and Michael Hodge from Meredith Connell presented an online session on the Rules.
Resources accompanying this online session are also available to download: