Lester Dempster and Conveyancing Pactitioners

Lester DempsterIn memory of Lester Dempster

(Born: 23 November 1948 Died: 5 June 2009)

What an amazing man Lester was! Thanks to his efforts, we now have Conveyancing Practitioners operating in New Zealand.

Lester originally set up his conveyancing business in 1986. At that stage Lester had significant experience in conveyancing work, with over 10 years survey experience with the Land and Survey Department, and was a former Assistant Land Registrar with the Land Titles Office in Auckland.

However, by 1987 the Auckland District Law Society initiated a campaign to restrict Lester from dealing in conveyancing matters with the public. After a legal battle, by 1994 the Auckland District Law Society had successfully obtained an injunction against Lester restricting him from dealing with the public unless instructed by a lawyer with a practising certificate.

Rising to this challenge, Lester identified the need to break down the lawyers statutory monopoly on conveyancing work.

Under trans-Tasman laws recognising occupational equivalency, Lester went on to become the first New Zealander to obtain a landbrokers registration in Australia, where the majority of conveyancing transactions are completed through non-lawyer conveyancing specialists.

This resulted in the NZ Registrar General of Land approving the registration of Lester Dempster in 1999 as a non-lawyer conveyancer based on his Australian conveyancing qualification.

Lester endured numerous battles over the years which included the NZ Law Society unsuccessfully taking further court action for a judgement as to whether occupational equivalency provisions applied to landbrokers, and Lester lodging complaints with the Commerce Commission alleging anti-competitive conduct due to the Law Society writing to members and Banks warning them not to deal with him.

Lester continued to lobby government for the introduction of the conveyancing profession into New Zealand. He had consultations with Hon. Phil Goff (Labour MP for New Lynn), and finally the Conveyancing Bill was introduced to parliament. The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 received royal assent on 20 March 2006, paving the way for non-lawyer conveyancing specialists to operate in the New Zealand conveyancing market.

Lester became the founding President of the NZ Society of Conveyancers, and worked with the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic for the implementation of the Diploma in Conveyancing which had its first intake of students in 2009. Sadly Lester passed away prior to seeing the full results of his efforts.

As a tribute to Lester and his dedication to conveyancing, the Society has established the Lester Dempster Memorial Award which is presented to the top graduating Diploma in Conveyancing student each year. View past award recipients.

Conveyancing was Lester Dempster’s passion. The personal, emotional and financial sacrifice that he made was incredible, as we all now benefit from Lester’s battle which spanned several decades. We are grateful for the energy that Lester has shown, as the Society looks forward to leading the conveyancing profession into the next generation.

FOUNDING CONVEYANCER – Articles about Lester Dempster’s Journey