Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Conveyancing Practitioners: Complaints Service and Standards Committee) Regulations 2008

2008/187

Crest

Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Conveyancing Practitioners: Complaints Service and Standards Committee) Regulations 2008

Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias, Administrator of the Government

Order in Council

At Wellington this 30th day of June 2008

Present:
Her Excellency the Administrator of the Government in Council

Pursuant to sections 94, 108, and 122 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, Her Excellency the Administrator of the Government, acting on the advice and with the consent of the Executive Council, makes the following regulations.

Contents


Regulations

1 Title
  • These regulations are the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Conveyancing Practitioners: Complaints Service and Standards Committee) Regulations 2008.

2 Commencement
  • These regulations come into force on 1 August 2008.

Part 1
Preliminary provisions

3 Interpretation
  • (1) In these regulations, unless the context otherwise requires,—

    Act means the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006

    Board means the executive board of the Society

    complaints service means the complaints service of the Society established by regulation 6(1)

    lay member means a member of the Standards Committee who is not a conveyancing practitioner or a lawyer

    main office means the office designated by the Society as the main office

    Society means the New Zealand Society of Conveyancers

    Standards Committee or Committee means the Conveyancers Standards Committee of the Society established by regulation 13.

    (2) Any term that is defined in the Act and used, but not defined, in these regulations has the meaning given in the Act.

4 Delegation of functions, duties, and powers of Society
  • The Society may, in writing, delegate (either generally or specifically) to any person or body any functions, duties, and powers of the Society under these regulations.

5 Complaints relating to former conveyancing practitioners, employees, and incorporated conveyancing firms
  • (1) If a complaint relates to a former conveyancing practitioner, or to a former employee of a conveyancing practitioner or an incorporated conveyancing firm, any requirement in these regulations to give notice or provide a copy of a document to that person does not apply unless his or her address is known, or can reasonably be ascertained.

    (2) If a complaint relates to a former incorporated conveyancing firm, any requirement in these regulations to give notice or provide a copy of a document to that former incorporated conveyancing firm—

    • (a) is met by notifying or providing a copy of the document to the persons who were directors of the firm at the time it was dissolved; and

    • (b) does not apply unless the addresses of those persons are known, or can reasonably be ascertained.

Part 2
Complaints service

6 Establishment of and access to complaints service
  • (1) This regulation establishes the complaints service of the Society for the purpose of receiving complaints about—

    • (a) conveyancing practitioners and former conveyancing practitioners; and

    • (b) incorporated conveyancing firms and former incorporated conveyancing firms; and

    • (c) employees and former employees of conveyancing practitioners or incorporated conveyancing firms.

    (2) The Society must provide, for the public, access to the complaints service at the Society's main office.

    Compare: 2006 No 1 s 131(c)(ii)

7 Publication of information about complaints service
  • (1) The Society must make information about the complaints service available to the public, without charge, in writing or electronically.

    (2) The information to be made available must include the following:

    • (a) how to access the complaints service, including the address of the Society's main office; and

    • (b) the persons about whom a complaint may be made; and

    • (c) the means by which a complaint may be made; and

    • (d) the requirement in regulation 9(2) that the complaints service must give reasonable assistance to any person who wishes to make a complaint to meet the requirements of regulation 9(1).

    Compare: 2006 No 1 s 131(c)(i)

8 Conveyancing practitioners must provide information about complaints service on request
  • Every conveyancing practitioner and incorporated conveyancing firm must provide, on request, the information about the complaints service set out in regulation 7(2).

9 How to make complaint
  • (1) A complaint must be made to the complaints service and must—

    • (a) be in writing; and

    • (b) identify the complainant; and

    • (c) specify an address for service; and

    • (d) identify the firm to which, or the person or persons to whom, the complaint relates; and

    • (e) state the subject matter of the complaint; and

    • (f) be supported with any appropriate documentation held by, or available to, the complainant.

    (2) The complaints service must give reasonable assistance to any person who wishes to make a complaint to meet the requirements of subclause (1).

    (3) A complaint may be submitted by delivering it to the complaints service by hand, or by sending it to the complaints service by email, fax, or post.

    Compare: 2006 No 1 ss 125(c), 131(c)(iii)

10 Procedure on receipt of complaint
  • (1) When a complaint is received, the complaints service must—

    • (a) acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing; and

    • (b) as soon as is reasonably practicable, refer the complaint to the Standards Committee; and

    • (c) notify the firm to which, or the person or persons to whom, the complaint relates; and

    • (d) provide a copy of the complaint to that firm, that person, or those persons.

    (2) When a complaint is referred to the Standards Committee, the complaints service must advise the firm to which, or the person or persons to whom, the complaint relates of their right to make a written submission to the Committee.

    (3) If a complaint relates to matters that arose during the course of a person's employment by a conveyancing practitioner or an incorporated conveyancing firm, the complaints service must also provide a copy of the complaint to that conveyancing practitioner or incorporated conveyancing firm unless, in the opinion of the complaints service, there are special circumstances that make it inappropriate to do so.

11 Quality of complaints service
  • (1) The Society must, in administering the complaints service, take all reasonable steps to ensure that the complaints service—

    • (a) deals with complaints in a fair, efficient, and effective manner; and

    • (b) achieves consistency and quality of service throughout New Zealand.

    (2) The Society may make, vary, or revoke practice notes or requirements concerning the operation of the complaints service and procedures to be followed by the complaints service.

    Compare: 2006 No 1 ss 123(b), 125(e)

12 Publication of information regarding outcomes and performance of complaints service
  • The annual report furnished to the Minister under section 93 of the Act must include the following information relating to the outcomes and performance of the complaints service:

    • (a) the number of complaints received during the year; and

    • (b) the outcomes of complaints in general terms and, in particular,—

      • (i) the number of complaints where a decision to take no action has been made:

      • (ii) the number of complaints referred to and resolved by negotiation, conciliation, or mediation:

      • (iii) the number of complaints where orders were made pursuant to section 156 or 157 of the Act:

      • (iv) the number of complaints where a decision was made to refer the matter to the Disciplinary Tribunal pursuant to section 152(2)(a) of the Act; and

    • (c) the number of outstanding complaints at the conclusion of the relevant year.

    Compare: 2006 No 1 s 131(d)

Part 3
Constitution of Standards Committee

13 Establishment of Standards Committee
  • This regulation establishes the Standards Committee of the Society for the purposes of assessing and determining complaints received by the complaints service.

14 Membership of Standards Committee
  • The Standards Committee must have—

    • (a) not fewer than 2 nor more than 7 conveyancing practitioner members; and

    • (b) not fewer than 1 nor more than 2 lawyer members; and

    • (c) not fewer than 1 nor more than 2 lay members.

15 Mode of appointment of members
  • All members of the Standards Committee must be appointed by the Board.

16 Criteria to be applied in appointing lawyer and conveyancing practitioner members
  • (1) To be eligible for appointment as a conveyancing practitioner member of the Standards Committee, a person must have experience in providing conveyancing services for a period or periods aggregating not less than 5 years.

    (2) To be eligible for appointment as a lawyer member of the Standards Committee, a person must have practised as a lawyer for a period or periods aggregating not less than 5 years.

    (3) In appointing any lawyer member or conveyancing practitioner member of the Standards Committee, the Board must have regard, among other things, to—

    • (a) the person's personal attributes; and

    • (b) the person's ability by reason of his or her skill, experience, and judgement to deal with and make appropriate decisions in respect of complaints.

17 Procedure to be followed and criteria to be applied in appointing lay members
  • (1) Before appointing a lay member of the Standards Committee, the Board must—

    • (a) call for expressions of interest; and

    • (b) assess the expressions of interest received; and

    • (c) select the lay member to be appointed from among those persons who expressed an interest.

    (2) Before the Board may appoint a lay member of the Standards Committee, the Board must be satisfied—

    • (a) that the person is of good character and is a fit and proper person to serve on the Committee; and

    • (b) that the person has some or all of the attributes of skill, experience, and judgement necessary to deal with and make appropriate decisions in respect of complaints.

    (3) Subclause (1)(c) is subject to subclause (2).

18 Tenure of office of members
  • (1) The term of appointment of a member to the Standards Committee is the period, not exceeding 3 years, that the Board determines at the time of appointment.

    (2) The Board may reappoint a member to the Standards Committee for further terms, in each case not exceeding 3 years, as the Board determines.

    (3) No person may be a member of the Standards Committee for a continuous period that exceeds 9 years.

19 Resignation of members
  • A member of the Standards Committee may resign at any time by notice in writing to the Board.

20 Circumstances in which member may be removed
  • The Board may remove a member of the Standards Committee from office if the Board is satisfied that—

    • (a) the member has for any reason displayed an inability to perform the functions of that office; or

    • (b) the member has neglected his or her duties, including in particular where the member's attendance, conduct, or performance at meetings of the Committee has not been satisfactory; or

    • (c) the member has engaged in personal or professional conduct that the Board considers brings the Society into disrepute; or

    • (d) the member has been declared bankrupt or is the director of a company that has been put into receivership or liquidation; or

    • (e) the member has been convicted of a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment and the Board considers that the conviction reflects on the fitness of the member to serve on the Committee; or

    • (f) in the case of a conveyancing practitioner or lawyer member, the Committee or the Disciplinary Tribunal has determined that the member has been guilty of misconduct or of unsatisfactory conduct.

21 Procedure for removal of member
  • (1) When the Board decides to remove a member of the Standards Committee from office, the Board must immediately give written notice of its decision to the member.

    (2) The removal from office takes effect from the time of service on the member of the notice referred to in subclause (1) unless the notice provides otherwise.

22 Vacancies
  • If a vacancy occurs on the Standards Committee, the Board must, as soon as is reasonably practicable, fill the vacancy by appointing another person to the Committee.

23 Validity of proceedings
  • The validity of any proceedings or decision of the Standards Committee is not affected by any defect or deficiency in the appointment of a member.

Part 4
Operation of Standards Committee

24 Procedure of Standards Committee
  • (1) The Standards Committee must, from time to time, appoint one of its conveyancing practitioner members to be the chairperson of the Committee.

    (2) The chairperson of the Standards Committee must convene meetings of the Committee and determine the date and time at which, and method by which, meetings are held.

    (3) Meetings of the Standards Committee may be held in person, or by way of telephone conference or video link.

    (4) The Standards Committee may determine its own procedures, which must accord with the provisions of the Act and these regulations and in particular the requirement to act in accordance with the rules of natural justice.

25 Decisions of Standards Committee
  • (1) The quorum of the Standards Committee is 3 members, at least 1 of whom must be a conveyancing practitioner and 1 of whom must be a lay member.

    (2) A decision supported by a majority of the votes cast at a meeting of the Standards Committee is the decision of the Committee.

    (3) The chairperson has a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote.

    (4) The chairperson must ensure that a proper written record of all proceedings before the Standards Committee is kept and maintained.

    (5) Decisions of the Standards Committee must remain confidential unless the Committee makes a direction under section 142(2) of the Act or regulation 29.

26 Procedure when complaint received
  • (1) When a complaint is received from the complaints service, the chairperson of the Standards Committee must—

    • (a) ensure that all members of the Committee are provided with copies of the complaint and all associated documentation; and

    • (b) as soon as is reasonably practicable, convene a meeting of the Committee.

    (2) The Standards Committee must determine whether any further action is required in respect of the complaint.

    (3) If the Standards Committee determines that further action is required, it must—

    • (a) decide what action is required; and

    • (b) who is responsible for progressing the matter.

    (4) The chairperson must, within 20 working days of the Standards Committee's determination under subclause (2), ensure that formal written notification of that determination, including details of what further steps, if any, will be taken and when, is provided to—

    • (a) the complainant; and

    • (b) the person or persons to whom, or the firm to which, the complaint relates.

    (5) The Standards Committee must provide the person or persons to whom, or the firm to which, a complaint relates an adequate opportunity to respond to that complaint, even if the Committee has decided that no further action will be taken.

    (6) If a written response is received to a complaint, the complaint and that written response must be kept together.

27 Procedure when Standards Committee agrees to investigate further
  • When the Standards Committee determines that further investigation of a complaint is required, it must ensure that—

    • (a) all parties are given an adequate opportunity to be heard; and

    • (b) notice of any negative findings that the Committee may make is given to the person or persons to whom, or the firm to which, the complaint relates, and they are given an adequate opportunity to respond, before a final determination is made.

28 Complaints relating to bills of costs
  • (1) If a complaint relates to a bill of costs, unless the Standards Committee determines that there are special circumstances that would justify otherwise, the Committee must not deal with the complaint if the bill of costs—

    • (a) was rendered more than 2 years prior to the date of the complaint; or

    • (b) relates to a fee that does not exceed $500, exclusive of goods and services tax.

    (2) If the Standards Committee determines that it will not take any further action, the person or persons to whom, or the firm to which, the complaint relates must be advised of that determination within 5 working days.

29 Publication of identity
  • (1) If the Standards Committee makes a censure order pursuant to section 156(1)(b) of the Act, the Committee may, with the prior approval of the Board, direct publication of the identity of the person who is the subject of the censure order.

    (2) When deciding whether to publish the identity of a person who is the subject of a censure order, the Standards Committee and the Board must take into account the public interest and, if appropriate, the impact of publication on the interests and privacy of—

    • (a) the complainant; and

    • (b) clients of the censured person; and

    • (c) relatives of the censured person; and

    • (d) partners, employers, and associates of the censured person; and

    • (e) the censured person.

30 Maximum compensation
  • The maximum amount of compensation that the Standards Committee may order pursuant to section 156(1)(d) of the Act is $25,000.

31 Chairperson must provide information to Board
  • (1) The chairperson of the Standards Committee must provide to the Board, every year, the following information:

    • (a) the number of complaints received during the year; and

    • (b) the outcomes of complaints in general terms and, in particular,—

      • (i) the number of complaints where a decision to take no action has been made:

      • (ii) the number of complaints referred to and resolved by negotiation, conciliation, or mediation:

      • (iii) the number of complaints where orders were made pursuant to section 156 or 157 of the Act:

      • (iv) the number of complaints where a decision was made to refer the matter to the Disciplinary Tribunal pursuant to section 152(2)(a) of the Act; and

    • (c) the number of outstanding complaints at the conclusion of the relevant year.

    (2) The information in subclause (1) must be provided in time for that information to be included in the Society's annual report.

Part 5
Investigators

32 Standards Committee may appoint investigators
  • (1) The Standards Committee may, under section 144 of the Act, appoint investigators to assist in the investigation of complaints.

    (2) Before the Standards Committee appoints a person as an investigator, the Committee must be satisfied that the person—

    • (a) is familiar with the Act and the regulations and rules made under it; and

    • (b) has a very good understanding of conveyancing practices and procedures; and

    • (c) has appropriate personal attributes and is of good character; and

    • (d) has any additional specific qualifications or experience that the Committee considers appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

33 Revocation of appointment of investigator
  • The Standards Committee may revoke the appointment of an investigator at any time if the Committee is satisfied that—

    • (a) the person has for any reason displayed an inability to perform his or her functions as an investigator; or

    • (b) the person has engaged in personal or professional conduct that the Committee considers brings the Society into disrepute; or

    • (c) the person has been declared bankrupt or is the director of a company that has been put into receivership or liquidation; or

    • (d) the person has been convicted of a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment and the Committee considers that the conviction reflects on the fitness of the person to serve as an investigator; or

    • (e) the person has been subject to professional disciplinary action; or

    • (f) the person is, in the opinion of the Committee, no longer of good character.

Rebecca Kitteridge,
Clerk of the Executive Council.

Explanatory note

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 Committee of the New Zealand Society of Conveyancers (the Society).

Preliminary provisions

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 conveyancing practitioners, former employees, and former incorporated conveyancing 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.

Complaints service

Regulation 6 establishes the complaints service, and provides that the public must be given access to that service at the Society's main office.

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 obliges conveyancing practitioners and incorporated conveyancing firms to provide information about the complaints service, on request.

Regulation 9 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 10 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 is reasonably practicable.

Regulation 11 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 12 specifies certain information that the Society must provide to the Minister, annually, in relation to the outcomes and performance of the complaints service.

Standards Committee

Regulation 13 establishes the Standards Committee and regulations 14 to 23 provide for the appointment, tenure, and removal of Committee members, including a requirement that 1 or 2 lay members be appointed.

Regulations 24 to 27 set out procedural matters relating to the Standards Committee, such as how meetings may be held, how decisions will be made, and the procedure to be followed when a complaint is received.

Regulation 28 prevents consideration of a complaint about a bill of costs, if the bill does not exceed $500, or if it was rendered more than 2 years prior to the complaint, unless there are special circumstances.

Regulation 29 allows the Standards Committee, with Board approval, to publish the identify of a person who is the subject of a censure order.

Regulation 30 limits the amount of compensation that the Standards Committee may order to $25,000.

Regulation 31 requires the chairperson of the Standards Committee to provide certain information to the Board, annually, relating to the outcomes of complaints.

Investigators

Regulation 32 allows for the appointment of investigators to assist the Standards Committee in the investigation of complaints, and regulation 33 sets out when an investigator's appointment may be revoked.


Issued under the authority of the Acts and Regulations Publication Act 1989.

Date of notification in Gazette: 3 July 2008.

These regulations are administered by the Ministry of Justice.