New Zealand Law Society - Certificate of Character

Certificate of Character

A certificate of character certifies that you are a fit and proper person to be admitted as a barrister and solicitor.

A certificate of character issued from any branch of the Law Society can be used to seek admission in any High Court in Aotearoa New Zealand during its period of validity. The certificate of character must be valid on the date of your admission.

You may apply to a Law Society branch of your choice. If you are seeking to be admitted in Auckland there is limited capacity, please check Admission dates for further information. You should start the process after you have completed your professionals course, and three months ahead of the date of the proposed admission ceremony. If you need to make any disclosures to the Law Society please do so openly and honestly, refer to part 10 of the application form to see whether this applies to you.

Application

An application for a certificate of character must include:

  • the prescribed form,
  • the fee,
  • referee reports (sent independently by the referee) and all other required documents,
  • a criminal conviction history. Please note that this will be lodged with the Ministry of Justice by the Law Society. You will later be asked to authorise this via a link which will be emailed to you by the Ministry.

The documents listed above must be provided in order to complete the application. However all referees provide relevant documents directly to the Society. Documents (except passport details) must be originals. Copies will not be accepted.

Please note that the application and references will lapse if the process is not complete after 3 months. You may be required to refresh your documentation.

Payment

The NZLS fee is $270 (including GST). You are able to pay by debit card, credit card or internet banking. Payment made by credit card or debit card will incur a card payment surcharge. From 1 July 2024, the application fee will increase to $282 (including GST). 

Advertising your name to the profession

When you apply for a certificate of character, the Law Society will advertise your name in media at its discretion. Any person wishing to comment on your conduct and fitness may do so directly to the branch within the time specified.

Process

You are responsible for ensuring that all documentation is provided to the relevant branch office in time.

When all the documentation is complete, the branch will process your application and issue you with a certificate of character. You should then file your certificate of character along with the other admission documents in the High Court. Check the Admissions information for details.

Please note that in some circumstances an interview may be required.

If there are issues with your application that require further assessment, the branch may refer your application to National Office for review. It may then be referred to a Practice Approval Committee (PAC) for consideration. Further information and/or an interview may also be required at that stage.

If the PAC declines to issue you with a certificate, you may still apply for admission directly to the High Court. However if your application does not include a certificate of character, you must serve a copy of the application on the Law Society (National Office) within two days of filing in the High Court – Rule 6, LCA (Lawyers: Admission) Rules 2008. The Society will, within 21 days of receiving the copy of your application, serve on you a notice of opposition stating the grounds on which the application is opposed and include any affidavits in support and as necessary. Your application will be determined by the High Court.