The practising certificate renewal round is approaching with all current practising certificates lapsing on 30 June every year. This guide helps you work out what to declare when renewing your practising certificate.
There is a range of matters that you are required to inform the Law Society about if they have occurred since issue of your last practising certificate, or if there is any fit and proper person matter that you have not previously disclosed to the Law Society.
You should already have completed your CPD declaration which was due on 31 March.
You will need to make a fit and proper person declaration to renew your practising certificate for the relevant practising year.
If you are the designated lawyer for your law practice, you will also need to make a designated lawyer declaration.
The fit and proper person declaration requires you to answer a number of questions.
The first is an undertaking to comply with the fundamental obligations of lawyers as set out in s4 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (Act). In essence you are declaring that you are aware of these and are complying with them.
Section 4 reads as follows:
Every lawyer who provides regulated services must, in the course of his or her practice, comply with the following fundamental obligations:
The second question relates to any matter that does or might affect your fitness to be issued with a practising certificate. As regulators of the profession, the Law Society must consider whether there are any grounds under the Act for declining or refusing to issue a practising certificate. In determining whether a person is a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate the Law Society may take into account any matters it considers relevant, including but not limited to, the matters set out in ss41 and 55 of the Act. Some of these matters that you must declare include:
You are not required to declare any open complaints that are being considered by a Standards Committee, by the Legal Complaints Review Officer, or by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal that the Law Society is already aware of. However, the Law Society does consider that workplace conduct issues, which have not previously been brought to our attention are relevant fitness issues and should be declared.
Thirdly, you must declare whether you are complying with any orders of a Standards Committee, the Legal Complaints Review Officer or the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
If you owe any outstanding costs or fines resulting from a disciplinary matter or have not complied with any other order, you must declare this. If you have entered into a time payment arrangement and payments are up to date, there is no need to include this.
If you are a sole practitioner you are required to declare whether you have an appointed power of attorney and alternate power of attorney as required under ss44-45 and Schedule 1 of the Act. A failure to appoint an attorney and alternate constitutes an offence under s45 of the Act.
Completing your fit and proper declaration: who needs to appoint an attorney or alternate
Q: Do I need an attorney or an alternate if I am a barrister sole?
A: No you do not, unless you are the sole director of an incorporated barristers practice.
If you are a barrister sole, you should answer “N/A” to the question “I have an appointed power of attorney and alternate power of attorney as required under ss44-45 and Schedule 1 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006".
If you are the sole director of an incorporated barristers practice, please feel free to contact us so we can provide more information about appointing an alternate.
Most matters will probably not be significant enough to prevent your new practising certificate issuing. If any matter needs investigation, you may be requested to provide further information and it may be referred to a Law Society Practice Approval Committee. You will be advised if this is the case. The Law Society may make other inquiries if it considers these are relevant. This process can take some time to complete so please complete your declaration as soon as you are able.
You are required to be open and frank in your declaration. If in doubt, please declare.
There is no need to wait for the practising certificate renewal round if you have matters of concern to report. There is an ongoing obligation to advise the Law Society of any matter that might affect your continuing eligibility to hold a practising certificate. See regulation 8 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Practice Rules) Regulations 2008 .
If you are practising on your own account, your practice must have a designated lawyer appointed in accordance with the obligations under Rule 11.3 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (Rules).
Your designated lawyer is required to make a separate declaration each year in accordance with r11.4.4 of the Rules . This declaration will be available as part of their individual practising certificate renewal process. More information about this declaration is available about this on our website NZLS | Responsibilities of the Designated Lawyer (lawsociety.org.nz).
If you have any issues with making an online declaration or you want to discuss any matter please call a member of the Registry Team on 0800 22 30 30 for assistance.