One of the differences between barristers and solicitors touched upon in my last article was that, as a general rule, barristers have to receive their instructions from a solicitor, often referred to as the "instructing solicitor". That rule has long been known as the intervention rule.

On the 1st of July 2015 changes to the intervention rule came into effect which enable barristers to apply to the New Zealand Law Society for approval to accept instructions directly from clients in certain specified types of cases.

I'm pleased to advise that on the 21st of July 2015 I received approval from the New Zealand Law Society to accept direct instructions in cases where that is permitted under the new intervention rule.

So what does that all mean?

In summary, the new categories of cases where I may be able to take direct instructions (if certain conditions are met) include:*

(a) giving advice or providing an opinion in any civil matter which is not a proceeding currently in the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court.That would include providing advice preliminary to the commencement of court proceedings, or acting for clients in proceedings before tribunals such as the Weathertight Homes Tribunal, or various professional disciplinary tribunals.

(b) acting in an employment matter that does not involve 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

(c) representing a person charged with any offence other than in any prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Markets Authority or the Commerce Commission; or

(d) acting in a family law matter that is capable or was initially capable of being brought in the Family Court, as long as the matter does not involve complex property issues.

The new rule makes it clear that in certain circumstances, where it is in the best interests of the client, it will still be necessary to involve an instructing solicitor. In many instances having an instructing solicitor to assist with a case will still be the best option. What is required is an assessment of what is in the client's best interests in each case.

If you have any questions about the operation of the new intervention rule, you are welcome to contact me.

* From the New Zealand Law Society website