In order to protect consumers and maintain the public’s confidence in conveyancing services, the NZSOC has a Complaints Service available to receive complaints about current and former conveyancing practitioners, incorporated conveyancing firms and employees.
Before making a complaint, it is expected that the complainant will have already contacted the firm/practitioner concerned, to advise them what the problem is about, as often a resolution can be reached at this early stage.
If the Complaints Service involvement is required, then any complaint must be;
- In writing – to the NZSOC (using the Complaints Form)
- Identify the complainant
- Specify an address for service
- Identify the firm/person to whom the complaint relates
- State the matter of the complaint
Be supported with any appropriate documentation
Complaints in relation to fees must involve a fee in excess of $500.00 (exclusive of GST) and must be made within 2 years of billing date. Please note that a complaint must be in writing using the Complaints Form.
Once a complaint has been received, the Complaint Service must;
- Provide written acknowledgement of its receipt
- Refer the complaint to the Standards Committee
- Notify the firm/person to which the complaint relates
- Provide a copy of the complaint to the firm/person to whom the complaint relates
- The firm/person to whom the complaint relates, then has a right to make a written submission to the Standards Committee
The function of the Standards Committee is to inquire into and investigate complaints, and to promote resolution by way of negotiation, conciliation or mediation. The powers of the Standards Committee include the ability to intervene in affairs the practitioner/firm and to make final determinations in relation to complaints, and to prosecute or lay charges before the Disciplinary Tribunal.
In accordance with the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Conveyancing Practitioners: Complaints Service and Standards Committee) Regulations 2008, a Standards Committee has been established with consist of a mix of Conveyancing Practitioners, lawyers and lay members appointed by the Board.
Upon receiving a complaint, the Standards Committee may;
- Inquire into the complaint
- Give direction under section 143 or
- Decide under section 138, to take no action
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Standards Committee is to advise the complainant and the person to who the complaint relates of the procedure that will be adopted, and what further action is required along with who is responsible for progressing the matter. If an inquiry into a complaint is decided, then it must be investigated as soon as practicable.
Any complaint that require further investigation must ensure that all parties are provided with the opportunity to be heard, and to respond to any findings that may arise prior to making a final determination, in accordance with the rules of natural justice.
In administering complaints, the NZSOC must ensure that all complaints are dealt with fairly, efficiently and in a transparent and consistent manner.
For further information concerning the complaints process and the Standards Committee’s powers and duties is outlined in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 and the Complaints Brochure.