The New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) has drawn attention to the short timeframe left for lawyers to renew their practising certificates.
Although around half the legal profession has already done so, there are still many who have not completed their declaration of fitness to practise.
“All lawyers who want to continue to practice will need to have renewed their practising certificate before 1 July 2016,” the NZLS said in a statement.
The renewal process is conducted online. Lawyers are required to make a declaration that nothing has occurred since the issue of their last practising certificate that could affect their eligibility for a new one.
“The information is assessed and if there are any concerns further information may be requested and in some cases the application is referred to a specialist Practice Approval Committee for consideration,” Mary Ollivier, New Zealand Law Society general manager – regulatory, told NZ Lawyer
“If no concerns arise from the renewal declaration, a practising certificate for the following year is issued on payment of the fees and levies.”
Factors which may prevent the certificate being renewed include, but are not limited to, lawyers who are:
- A director of a firm in receivership or liquidation
- Convicted in New Zealand or overseas
- Involved in disciplinary matters relating to a non-legal profession in New Zealand or overseas
“The Practice Approval Committee may decline an application for renewal if there is sufficient reason to do so,” Ollivier said.
“In general the matters that can be taken into account are set out in sections 41 and 55 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 which relate to the lawyer remaining fit and proper.”
Lawyers must also declare that they will comply with all fundamental obligations set out in section four of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act, the NZLS said. These include:
- Upholding the rule of law and facilitating the administration of justice in New Zealand
- Being an independent provider of regulated services for all clients
- Acting in accordance with all fiduciary duties and duties of care between lawyers and clients
- Protecting the clients’ interests, subject to their overriding duties as officers of the High Court and their duties under any enactment
Before obtaining the practising certificate, lawyers must also pay the required fees and levies, the NZLS said.
A new set of practising fees, levies and charges was handed to Justice Minister Amy Adams last month. Pending ministerial approval, barristers sole and employed lawyers will have to pay the following (with GST exclusive):
- Practising fee: $1,192
- NZ Council of Legal Education Levy: $25
- Legal Complaints Review Officer Levy: $125
Barristers and solicitors practising on their own account will also have to cover the following additional costs when renewing their practising certificates:
- Inspectorate fee: $385
- Lawyers Fidelity Fund Contribution: $320