This note is not part of the regulations, but is intended to indicate their general effect.
These regulations, which come into force on 1 August 2008, relate to the complaints service and Standards Committees of the New Zealand Law Society (the Society).
Part 1 contains preliminary provisions of general application. Regulation 3 is an interpretation provision, and regulation 4 allows the Society to delegate its functions and powers. Regulation 5 relates to complaints about former lawyers, former employees, and former incorporated law firms. It provides that requirements to notify and provide copies of documents to persons in these categories do not apply unless an address for the person is known, or can reasonably be ascertained.
Regulation 6 establishes the complaints service, and provides that the public must be given access to that service at the Society's head office and at each of its branch offices. The Society must also provide a telephone line dedicated to inquiries about complaints.
Regulation 7 obliges the Society to publish information about the complaints service, including how to access the service and how to make a complaint.
Regulation 8 specifies how a complaint is to be made, and requires the complaints service to give reasonable assistance to persons who wish to make a complaint. Regulation 9 sets out what the complaints service must do when a complaint is received. In particular, the complaints service must acknowledge receipt of the complaint, and provide a copy to the firm, or person or persons, to whom the complaint relates. The complaints service must refer the complaint to the Standards Committee as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Regulation 10 provides that the Society must take reasonable steps to ensure the complaints service deals with complaints consistently throughout New Zealand, and in a fair, efficient, and effective manner. It also empowers the Society to make practice notes concerning the operation and procedures of the complaints service.
Regulation 11 specifies certain information that the Society must provide to the Minister, annually, in relation to the outcomes and performance of the complaints service.
Regulation 12 establishes—
18 local Standards Committees that will provide services in specified localities; and
2 national Standards Committees based in Wellington; and
15 reserve Standards Committees.
Not all the Standards Committees established under regulation 12 will be operational at the time when these regulations come into force. Regulation 12 empowers the Board to appoint members to the Standards Committees as and when it determines, and to declare Standards Committees to be operational. Regulation 13 sets out the membership requirements for operational standards committees, each of which must have between 2 and 7 lawyer members and 1 or 2 lay members.
Regulations 14 to 25 provide for the appointment, tenure, and removal of members of Standards Committees.
Regulation 26 sets out the procedures to be followed at meetings of Standards Committees.
Regulations 27 and 28 empower the Law Society to make practice notes concerning the procedures to be followed by Standards Committees, and require Standards Committees to comply with those practice notes.
Regulation 29 prevents consideration of a complaint about a bill of costs, if the bill does not exceed $2,000, or if it was rendered more than 2 years prior to the complaint, unless there are special circumstances.
Regulation 30 allows a Standards Committee, with Board approval, to publish the identity of a person who is the subject of a censure order.
Regulation 31 provides that decisions of Standards Committees are confidential, unless a direction is made under section 142(2) of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 or under regulation 30.
Regulation 32 limits the amount of compensation that a Standards Committee may order to $25,000.
Regulation 33 allows for the appointment of investigators to assist Standards Committees in the investigation of complaints, and regulation 34 sets out when an investigator's appointment may be revoked.