Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008

Schedule Rules of conduct and client care for lawyers

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Client care and service information

Whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must—

  • act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made:

  • protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties:

  • discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved:

  • provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided:

  • charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed:

  • give you clear information and advice:

  • protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality:

  • treat you fairly, respectfully, and without discrimination:

  • keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed:

  • let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.

The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of conduct and client care for lawyers (the rules). Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.

If you have any questions, please visit or call 0800 261 801.

Notes about the rules

This publication includes—

The rules are based on the fundamental obligations of lawyers set out in section 4 of the Act, namely—

  • to uphold the rule of law and to facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand:

  • to be independent in providing regulated services to clients:

  • to act in accordance with all fiduciary duties and duties of care owed by lawyers to their clients:

  • to protect, subject to overriding duties as officers of the High Court and to duties under any enactment, the interests of clients.

The rules are not an exhaustive statement of the conduct expected of lawyers. They set the minimum standards that lawyers must observe and are a reference point for discipline. A charge of misconduct or unsatisfactory conduct may be brought and a conviction may be obtained despite the charge not being based on a breach of any specific rule, nor on a breach of some other rule or regulation made under the Act.

Orders of a disciplinary nature may be made by the Disciplinary Tribunal against a lawyer on the grounds set out in section 241 of the Act, namely where there has been a finding of misconduct, unsatisfactory conduct, negligence, or incompetence, or in certain circumstances a conviction for an offence punishable by imprisonment. If a standards committee has determined that there has been unsatisfactory conduct, the standards committee can make a variety of orders as set out in section 156 of the Act.

Misconduct and unsatisfactory conduct are defined in section 6 of the Act. Wilful or reckless contravention of the Act or of these rules or other practice rules or regulations made under the Act is misconduct under section 7(1)(a)(ii). A contravention that is not wilful or reckless is unsatisfactory conduct under section 12(c).

The complaints and disciplinary process that may be invoked in the event of a breach of these rules is set out in Part 7 of the Act and in separate rules or regulations.

These Rules of conduct and client care for lawyers have been made by the New Zealand Law Society and approved by the Minister of Justice in accordance with Part 6 of the Act. In particular, these are the rules required by sections 94(e), (j), and (o) and 95 and authorised by section 336 of the Act, which provide for or relate to—

  • standards of conduct and client care:

  • the requirement that lawyers provide clients in advance with information on the principal aspects of client service:

  • the kinds of conduct for which a lawyer or former lawyer may be disciplined:

  • conditional fee agreements.

The rules are binding on all lawyers and former lawyers under section 107(1) of the Act. Accordingly, they apply to all lawyers, whether they work in private practice as barristers and solicitors or as barristers sole or as in-house lawyers in the private or public sector. Some rules apply only to particular kinds of work.

To the extent appropriate, these rules define the bounds within which a lawyer may practise. Within those bounds, each lawyer needs to be guided by his or her own sense of professional responsibility. The preservation of the integrity and reputation of the profession is the responsibility of every lawyer.

Lawyers may seek guidance on the application or interpretation of these rules from the Law Society’s Ethics Committee.

These rules are registered with the Registrar of Companies in accordance with section 102(1) of the Act.

Rules of conduct and client care for lawyers


Title and commencement
Proper purpose
Assisting in fraud or crime
Reporting misconduct
Unauthorised practice of law
Respect and courtesy
Provision of information
Complaints mechanisms
Continuing education
Retainers entered into prior to 1 August 2008
Refusing instructions
Duty to complete retainer
Client terminating retainer
Administration of oaths and declarations
Independent judgement and advice
Conflicting interests
Conflicting business interests
Third party conflicts of interest
Personal relationships
Collateral rewards
Drafting instruments
Claims against lawyer
Conflicting duties
Conflicting office
Duration of duty of confidence
When disclosure is required
When disclosure is permitted
Use of confidential information prohibited
Other confidential information
Reasonable fee factors
Fee agreements
Fees in advance
Fee information and advice
Final account
Lawyers undertaking work of real estate agents
Conditional fee agreements
Conditional fee statement
Fee sharing
Respect and courtesy
Communicating with another lawyer’s client
Fees of other lawyers
Making recordings
Misleading and deceptive conduct
Direct solicitation
Supervision and management
Prevention of crime or fraud
Third party fees
Duty of fidelity to court
Protection of court processes
Informed instructions
Alternatives to litigation
Independence in litigation
Lawyer as witness
Reputation of other parties
Discovery and privilege
Presenting evidence and witnesses
Submissions on law
Duties of prosecution lawyer
Duties of defence lawyer
Practice as barrister sole
Intervention rule
Direct instructions
Nature of engagement
Practice as in-house lawyer
Notification to Law Society
Prohibition against acting for another party