The Law Society of New Zealand Aotearoa has published the report of the independent panel review. The conclusion of the report suggests that while the current model the Law Society employs for regulating and representing lawyers’ functions well in some areas, it falls short in many others.
Chief among these shortcomings in the inability of the Law Society to adequately protect and promote the interests of the consumer. This is born of the Law Society’s dual function to promote the interests of the profession and the interests of the consumer. This is eroding trust in the regulator from both the profession and consumer groups.
“An inefficient and expensive regulatory model is not meeting the needs of consumers or the profession. Competing objectives and conflicting duties undermine the efficiency and effectiveness of the Law Society as a regulator. The legislative framework is unnecessarily prescriptive and ties the hands of the Law Society.”
The full report expands on these issues and others facing the regulator. The conclusion is a strong case for a new independent regulator. This conclusion has been backed by consumer groups and a large part of the profession. There is a strong international trend towards independent regulation as other jurisdictions move away from a combined regulatory and representative role for bar associations and law societies.