01What is a barrister? A barrister specialises in courtroom advocacy,drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions. They can be contrasted with solicitors who normally do more “office-based” legal work. Barristers are retained (or instructed) by solicitors to act on behalf of clients. In New Zealand, all lawyers are initially admitted to the roll as a “Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand”. Once they have sufficient experience, lawyers can choose to practice as a “barrister and solicitor” or as a “barrister sole”.
02What is an instructing solicitor and do I need one? Barristers must accept instructions from an instructing solicitor. Historically this meant that clients could not, for example, telephone a barrister directly and make an appointment. Clients would have to engage a solicitor first, and the solicitor would then engage the barrister. Nowadays, clients can contact a barrister directly but, if that happens, the barrister must ensure that the client also retains an instructing solicitor. Normally the instructing solicitor is your usual lawyer who you use for general work such as when you purchased your home. However, if you don’t have a solicitor, I can recommend one to you.
Where your case involves an employment dispute, the New Zealand Law Society has granted me approval to take direct instructions from clients. This means that I do not require an instructing solicitor when I act for clients, unless:
- a case involves proceedings in the Employment Court in the first instance or proceedings in or an appeal to the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court; or
- I consider that in all the circumstances it would be in the client’s best interests or in the interests of justice for an instructing solicitor to be retained
03Are Barristers bound by Rules of Professional Conduct?
Yes! At all times I am bound by the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers which state that whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must:
- Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.
- Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties.
- Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved.
- Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.
- Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
- Give you clear information and advice.
- Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
- Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
- Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
- Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.
These obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.
A letter of engagement and my standard terms of engagement will be provided to you . If you have any questions about these, please ask me.
04What is mediation? Mediation is a confidential and consensual dispute resolution process in which an independent and impartial mediator facilitates negotiation between the parties to assist them to resolve their dispute. Neither the parties nor the mediator are limited by rules of evidence.
The mediator is not a decision-maker, and the process is based on achieving co-operation between the parties. The mediator assists the parties to make their own decisions and agreements. The mediator’s role is to guide the process so that the issues can be defined, the relevant information produced and options explored without undue delay or legalistic procedures.
When a dispute is resolved in mediation, a written agreement which sets out the outcomes of the issues that have been resolved at the mediation is signed by the parties – this is a mediated agreement.
05What is farm debt mediation? Farm debt mediations are governed by the Farm Debt Mediation Act 1999. The purpose of this act is to provide parties to farm debt with the opportunity to use mediation to reach an agreement on present and future conduct of financial relations between them before enforcement action is taken in relation to farm property.
Farm property is defined in the Act as any property that is used for or in connection with a primary production business (i.e. a business undertaking that primarily produces unprocessed materials; and includes share-milking) or related activities of the farmer (i.e. business activities that involve primary production and are carried out in connection with a primary production business).
A farmer who owes a farm debt to a creditor may request mediation in accordance with the Act in relation to a farm debt at any time, unless there is an enforcement certificate in force in respect of the farm debt.
A Creditor may request mediation in accordance with the Act in relation to a farm debt at any time after a farmer is in default in relation to that farm debt, unless there is a prohibition certificate in force in respect of the farm debt.
06How do I pay you? Payment is required within 7 days of the issue of an invoice. Barristers cannot operate trust accounts or handle clients’ money (other than accept payment for services after an invoice is issued). This means that any retainer I require as security for work to be done in the future must be held by the instructing solicitor, in their trust account.
07Do you charge for initial consultations? Yes, although an initial brief (5-10 minute) telephone discussion is often not charged.