New Zealand Council of Legal Education
Between 1841 and 1930, legal education and the requirements for admission to the profession in New Zealand were the responsibility of the Judiciary of New Zealand pursuant to a number of Colonial Ordinances and Acts of Parliament, and prescribed in consecutive sets of Judges’ Rules. After the establishment of the University of New Zealand in 1870, the practical implementation of the admission requirements was progressively delegated by the Judiciary to the University.
In 1925, a Royal Commission which had been commissioned to examine a number of matters relating to University education in New Zealand, recommended that —
Accordingly in 1930 the Council of Legal Education was established. The original Council consisted of six members; two judges of the Supreme Court, two representatives of the New Zealand Law Society, and two law professors or teachers from the University of New Zealand. The Council was given recommendatory powers for the purpose of enabling the University to discharge its functions, which concurrently with the establishment of the Council had been given the responsibility for prescribing and conducting the necessary legal qualifications and examinations.
In 1961, the University of New Zealand was dissolved and the constituent Colleges established in their own right.
In order to preserve uniformity across law degrees, the maintenance of standards, and to secure input from representatives of all, rather than one particular category of stakeholder in legal education, the Council of Legal Education was reconstituted in 1961 as an independent statutory body to take over the role of defining, prescribing and arranging for the provision of courses of study, including practical training, for those persons (from New Zealand and overseas) wishing to be admitted as barristers and solicitors, and generally to supervise legal education in New Zealand.
In 1961 the membership of the Council consisted of representatives from the Judiciary, the New Zealand Law Society and the Law Schools. By 1982 membership had been extended to encompass a District Court Judge and law student representation, and by 1990 a non-lawyer member nominated by the Minister of Justice.
A major change to the operation and funding of the Council occurred in 1990 with the disestablishment of the University Grants Committee, as from 30 June of that year.
The Council’s activities had previously been carried out within the framework of the University Grants Committee and it had been a source of funding for the Council which was no longer available, although the Council was subsequently given the power to charge fees for its services.
The 1990 Amendment Act amended the Law Practitioners Act 1982. Some major consequences for the Council were:
The Council operated under the Law Practitioners Act 1982 until 2008, when the Council was continued under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006. That Act came into force on 1 August 2008. The Council was renamed the New Zealand Council of Legal Education.
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