find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
NZLS in fidelity fund furore

NZLS in fidelity fund furore

The New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) has been accused of being in breach of its fiduciary duty to the NZ public by a Waikato Bay of Plenty barrister as well as a member of the NZ Justice and…

The New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) has been accused of being in breach of its fiduciary duty to the NZ public by a Waikato Bay of Plenty barrister as well as a member of the NZ Justice and Electoral Committee.

The Lawyers and Conveyancers’ Bill, now before Parliament, provides for the NZLS to acquire approximately $6 million from the current Solicitors’ Fidelity Guarantee Fund, of which the NZLS is presently trustee.

Under the Bill, the NZLS can use two-thirds of the Fund balance in trust for carrying out representative functions for its members such as providing services and facilities for lawyers.

But these restrictions will cease under clause 337 as there will be no restrictions on the ownership and use of the funds by the NZLS. The remainder of the funds will become the new lawyers’ fidelity fund.

This has been criticised by Cheryl Simes, barrister and former editor of the Waikato Bay of Plenty District Law Society newsletter. Simes argued that “the NZLS has persuaded the government that lawyers think it’s a brilliant idea”.

In Simes’ view, the NZLS is acting against the interests of the beneficiaries of the fund for which it is trustee, being people who have had money stolen by lawyers. It is doing this by effectively lobbying to reduce the fidelity fund, remove the fidelity fund, or take it for its own purposes.

“These are the leading lawyers [in NZ] so if they didn’t know that there was a problem with that basic principle, then don’t they do trust law? Whether this was a conspiracy or a cock-up I don’t know but neither scenario is good,” she said

Supporting Simes’ position, Murray Smith, United Future MP and member of the Justice and Electoral Committee, said that the fund is “held by the Law Society as trustee on behalf of the public” and describes it as “ethically improper” to disburse the fund as proposed in the Bill “without the specific consent of the contributing members”.

The view of the NZ opposition, the Nationals, is that “the fidelity fund had a place when lawyers were actively involved in mortgage lending, but the current range of banking products has meant that lending by lawyers is rare”. As the Bill presently stands, there is still the potential for a special levy to be required if a claim arises that cannot be met under the new fund.

Andrea Ruffell is editor of NZ Lawyer.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

NZLS in fidelity fund furore
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice, Victorian County Court, retiring judges
Aug 21 2017
Replacements named for retired Vic judges
Two new judicial officers have been appointed in the Victorian County Court, following the retire...
Applauds
Aug 21 2017
LCA applauds proposed Modern Slavery Act
The Law Council of Australia has welcomed new recommendations for the development of a Modern Slaver...
Mentoring
Aug 21 2017
Top-tier offers targeted mentoring for Indigenous law students
Students at Macquarie University will be the first to benefit from a new Indigenous mentoring progra...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...