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- Legal System
The New Zealand legal system is derived from English Common Law, an inherited legacy of British colonial rule. The court structure is based broadly on the British system consisting of the district court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has been in existence since 2004, replacing the UK’s Privy Council as the final court of appeal. Subsections of the district court include the family court, along with specialised tribunals.
Lawyers trained in New Zealand are qualified to practice as both barristers and solicitors or just barristers. On admission to the High Court, however, lawyers are all styled as ‘barrister and solicitor’. Although afterwards they may practice only as barristers, most keep their dual title to give them greater working flexibility. Those who do not are known as ‘barristers sole’ and are not permitted to go into partnership with another ‘barrister sole’, although they may employ them.
All lawyers are regulated by the New Zealand Law Society, a statutory body and a member of the Commonwealth Law Society. The Law Society works within the parameters of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (2006) which governs the practice of law in the country. In 2012 the New Zealand Law Society recognised some 11,000 barristers and solicitors working in New Zealand either in private practice or as employed solicitors. About one in five of the total was employed by a government department, corporate body or professional association and 14% work as barristers sole.
Pre-requisites to admission to the practice of law are completion of a recognised law degree (LLB), practical legal training (articles of clerkship) and/or a professional legal course. Foreign lawyers may also practice in New Zealand but are forbidden from providing some legal services. Foreign lawyers are also able to apply to become fully licensed in New Zealand if they fulfil the necessary requirements.
New Zealand boasts a large and highly developed legal sector with firms working across the full spectrum of legal fields. Prominent law firms operating in the country include Russel McVeagh, Simpson Grierson, Bell Gully and Baldwins.
Information from the World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013
Legal rights index
Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes
Efficiency of legal framework in challenging regulations
Property rights (including financial assets)
Intellectual property protection
|Legal organisations in New Zealand|
|Minter Ellison Rudd Watts||
|New Zealand Law Society||