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Review of decisions about the conduct of legal practitioners   

Steps in a matter reviewing a decision about the conduct of a legal practitioner

Step 1: A practitioner applies to the Tribunal to have a decision reviewed

Step 1 - A practitioner applies to the Tribunal to have a decision reviewed    

An individual practitioner can apply to the Tribunal to review the following decisions:

  • refusal of application for approval of a lay associate (s 17(4))
  • decision following a show cause event (s 75)
  • decision to reprimand or make compensation order (s 540 and s 545(4))
  • decision to make a compensation order (s 573)

The practitioner needs to fill out an application for review of an administratively reviewable decision.

Step 2 - The practitioner files the application by the deadline, and pays the fee

The practitioner needs to file the application to the Tribunal within 28 days from when they are notified of the decision.

If the applicant wants to lodge an application but the time allowed has expired, they may ask for an extension. They will need to give a reason why they were not able to lodge the application within the time allowed. It will be up to the Tribunal to decide if the reason justifies accepting the late application.

The practitioner cannot file the application online or fax it. The application must be posted or brought to the Tribunal registry, along with the relevant fee.

Step 3 - The parties attend a directions hearing

The parties will receive a letter from the Tribunal advising of a date for a directions hearing. At the directions hearing a Tribunal member will set out the steps to be taken by the parties to prepare for a hearing.

The facts of the case are decided on the evidence given at the hearing. the Tribunal will give you a timetable for providing your evidence in writing to the Tribunal and the other parties before the hearing. These are called directions.

You will generally not be able to introduce new evidence at the hearing because the other party will not have had a chance to see that evidence and respond to it.

Step 4 - The parties take part in the hearing

When the Tribunal is reviewing a decision, the respondent (the body who made the decision) will usually present its evidence first. After the decision maker has given its evidence, the applicant will present his or her case. the Tribunal’s role is to decide whether the body has made the correct and preferable decision.

Step 5 - The Tribunal makes a decision

The Tribunal can make a number of orders, as described by the Legal Profession Act 2004. See more information about what outcomes are possible in a disciplinary case against a lawyer.

The Tribunal’s decision will be published on the Caselaw website.

The general rule for review decisions is that each party pays the costs of their lawyer. the Tribunal will only award costs to one party if the circumstances come within s 60 of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013.  

Step 6 - Either party may consider whether they have grounds for appeal to the Supreme Court

Parties may appeal directly to the Supreme Court against decisions of the Tribunal made in its review jurisdiction. There are two exceptions:

  • where the Tribunal has made a decision following review of a costs assessor's determination relating to a costs order made by the Tribunal
  • any decisions of the Tribunal of “a class prescribed by the regulations”.

 *There are no decision classes currently prescribed. Outcomes of applications for review of decisions made under the Legal Profession Act 2004

When reviewing decisions under the Legal Profession Act 2004, the Tribunal may make any order it considers appropriate including the following:

  • an order directing the Council of the Bar Association or the Council of the Law Society to grant, or to refuse to grant, an application for a local practising certificate
  • an order directing the appropriate Council to cancel or suspend a local practising certificate, or to reinstate a local practising certificate that has been cancelled or suspended
  • an order that an applicant or holder is not entitled to apply for the grant of a local practising certificate for a specified period not exceeding 5 years
  • an order directing the appropriate Council to impose conditions on a local practising certificate for a specified period, or to vary or revoke conditions imposed by the appropriate Council or to vary the period for which they are required to be imposed.

The Tribunal’s decision will be published on the Caselaw website. Details of any disciplinary orders that it makes will be entered on the Register of Disciplinary Action maintained by the Legal Services Commissioner.