The Lawyers Complaints Service received fewer formal grievances against lawyers in 2016, data from the New Zealand Law Society reveals.
For the 12 months ending 30 June, there were 1,363 complaints against lawyers lodged to the service, a 10.8% decrease from the previous comparable period. Meanwhile, the number of practicing lawyers increased 10.5% in the period. The data comes from the Law Society’s Report on Regulatory Activities for the Year to 30 June 2016, which was tabled in Parliament late last month.
Complaints against practicing lawyers accounted for 93.4% of complaints received in the latest year. Meanwhile, 48 complaints were filed against non-lawyer employees, 25 against former lawyers and 23 against incorporated law firms. The total number of complaints was 1,459.
Current and former clients filed the bulk of complaints (769 compared to 768 for the previous year), followed by clients for the other side (289 versus 279), other parties (99 v. 35), lawyers (87 v. 119), the NZLS (82 v. 122), third parties (75 v. 190) and beneficiaries (57 v. 90).
The Law Society said that areas of law most relevant to personal circumstances are where most complaints arise. Most complaints arose from matters in property law (20% compared to 14.4% for the previous year), followed by trusts and estates (17.5% versus 21%), family law (15.9% v. 17.9%) civil litigation (13% v. 13.2%) and criminal law (9.5% v. 9.1%).
During the year, 1,595 complaints were closed, while 564 were still pending at 30 June. In the previous year, 1,529 complaints were closed and 702 were pending. Decision to take no action was reached for 1,253 complaints, while 97 were referred to and resolved by negotiation, conciliation or mediation. Meanwhile, 45 complaints were withdrawn, discontinued or settled, and 170 resulted in orders made by the standards committee.
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