Page 3593 - Week 12 - Thursday, 13 October 1994

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   Thursday, 13 October 1994


MADAM SPEAKER (Ms McRae) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.


MR CONNOLLY (Attorney-General and Minister for Health) (10.31): Madam Speaker, I present the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1994.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CONNOLLY: Madam Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Madam Speaker, the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1994 will amend the Legal Practitioners Act 1970 in several respects. The provisions of the Act which deal with the issue by the Law Society of an unrestricted practising certificate will be amended. The main effects of these amendments will be to update the references to the employment of government lawyers to whom the Law Society shall issue an unrestricted practising certificate and to limit to New Zealand lawyers the issue of a certificate to overseas lawyers.

The conditions that a New Zealand lawyer must meet in order to obtain an unrestricted practising certificate are to be raised. The Bill will provide that a New Zealand practitioner must have completed five years' practice in the law, as opposed to the three years' practice currently required, within the preceding 10 years in order to qualify for the issue of a certificate enabling the practitioner to practise law on his or her own account in the Territory. This is in line with what is emerging as a national view of the appropriate conditions for entry to the profession for such legal practitioners.

The Legal Practitioners Act provides for regular audits of the money that a lawyer holds in trust for clients. A lawyer is required to enter such funds into a trust account. There is some doubt as to whether moneys and valuable securities of a client to which a solicitor has access but which have not passed through the solicitor's trust account must be audited under the Act. In order that this uncertainty is removed, an amendment will be made to include the concept of controlled moneys in the Act. Controlled moneys are defined in the Bill as moneys and valuable securities such as share scrip, negotiable instruments or land title documents belonging to a client over which a solicitor has direct or indirect control.

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