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One Law Society Proposal Threatened By Auckland

One Law Society Proposal Threatened By Auckland

www.LawFuel.co.nz  - The Law Jobs and News Wire

Plans for the Law Society’s ‘One Society’ model are looking shaky as the newly elected Auckland District Law Society Council examines the repercussions for its membership of the radical new Act that is designed to reshape the modern legal profession.

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act was intended to come into force on 1 July, but has now been delayed until 1 August as new blood on the Auckland District Council takes a rather more critical look at the proposed new Law Society structure than did their predecessors.

Law Society President John Marshall QC wrote to members on May 27 telling them the Act’s commencement date had been set back to August 1 due mainly to the necessity to gazette the new Rules and Regulations, which comprehensively re-draw the practice lines for the profession.

However, the delay is also something that is being used by the Auckland District Law Society to review its attitude towards the ‘One Society’ proposition posited by the Act.
Last year Auckland Society members voted in favour of a proposal that would see the 14 district law societies folding all their assets and operations into a single national law society rather than proceeding with incorporation as envisaged by the Act. The key elements of the One Society proposal was that New Zealand Law Society be run in two divisions – a Regulatory Division managed from Wellington, and a Representative Division managed from Auckland.
Auckland is by far the largest of the 14 district societies and is to be vested with certain ‘representative’ functions in the new body. At issue, in part, is the extent of those functions and just what the Auckland body is expected to do. While work has progressed on the changes required for the Regulatory arm of New Zealand Law Society, work has yet to be progressed on the Representative Division to be established in Auckland.
Last month, the ADLS Public Issues committee wrote critically about the model stating in a discussion paper: “Those societies which decided not to incorporate and remain independent would effectively be “nationalised” by having their assets and functions taken over by the New Zealand Law Society.

“In the case of Auckland District Law Society this amounted to the loss of some $14 million of assets, with a higher valuation as a going concern.

“The members of ADLS approved the “one society” model on the basis that ADLS would provide the majority of NZLS member services. It remains uncertain whether this “will occur. Hence the prospect remains that this is a takeover rather than a merger.

In an article in the Wellington District Law Society newspaper ‘Council Brief’, entitled “ ‘One Society’ – Thirteen + One” the Wellington District Law Society president Richard Fowler indicated there was doubt as to what would happen with the new society, saying “. . if Auckland decide to opt out . . what I want you all to know is that your Council remains convinced that the ‘One Society’ model should proceed – albeit with 13, not 14 (members).”

He indicated that the other districts were of similar mind. Auckland, however, may well prove to have already made up its mind.




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