My Approach to Employment Law
As a barrister, my first skill is litigation where it is my duty “…to raise every matter, advance every argument and ask every question…” (Oxford Companion to Law, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980, p. 116). I am subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct for Barristers and Solicitors (New Zealand Law Society, Rules of Professional Conduct for Barristers and Solicitors , 7th edition, Wellington: 2004). A barrister owes a duty to the court in proceedings not to mislead it and “…not to invite it to condone or assist any illegality and not to conceal from it any authority [and in addition] …must accept any brief …if a proper fee is offered, and may not discriminate between clients on racial or ethnic grounds…” (Oxford Companion to Law).
Employment consultants are not lawyers
In New Zealand anyone can hold themselves out as having expertise in employment law. With or without legal training, they simply open an office and call themselves a “consultant” or an “employment law specialist”. Shockingly, they appear in all forums including the courts. Consultants, union officials and people not admitted as barristers and solicitors are not regulated by the Law Society and do not have to satisfy qualification or legal admission requirements. Most importantly these people are not bound by the ethical rules that bind the legal profession. Consultants are not lawyers.
I specialise in managing poor performance and disciplinary actions like demotion, suspension, warnings and dismissal. I also tailor employment contracts of all kinds: including fixed term, full time, part-time, casual and contractor contracts. I advise on legal compliance, restructuring, redundancy, restraints of trade and due diligence. Employment law interfaces with Human Rights, Privacy and Bill of Rights, Health and Safety, ACC and Holidays acts. My practice areas include: terms of employment, policies and procedures and leave entitlements including annual leave, sick leave, bereavement and parental leave as well as extended absences from work due to illness or accident; discrimination including ageism, sexism, gender bias, racism and sexual harassment; disadvantage including humiliation, victimisation, workplace bullying and workplace stress.
As a barrister I require an instruction from a solicitor before I can act for a client. This is similar to the requirement that a General Practitioner must refer a patient to a specialist. An instruction can be arranged through your solicitor, otherwise please contact me to discuss what this involves and how this can be done.
For employees, I form a preliminary view of the case and discuss the issue of funding the legal strategy I recommend at the initial free consultation. For employers, I would be grateful for the opportunity to discuss how I can cost-effectively provide advice and representation. At rule 3.01 of the New Zealand Law Society Rules of Professional Conduct for Barristers and Solicitors the guidelines for fees appear as follows:
(1) Charges must be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances… The “Principles of Charging” set out in the guidelines include:
Charges by a lawyer for professional work shall be calculated to give a fair and reasonable return for the services rendered, having regard to the interests of both client and lawyer. Charges shall take account of all relevant factors, including:
- the skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required
- the importance of the matter to the client and the results achieved
- The urgency and the circumstances in which the business is transacted
- the value or amount of any property or money involved
- the complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved
- the number and importance of the documents prepared or perused
- The time and labour expended
- The reasonable costs of running a practice.
The relative importance of the factors set out above will vary according to the particular circumstances of each transaction.
My fees are charged and invoiced in accordance with the above guidelines. My standard terms of engagement will be provided to clients upon instruction.
Employment law is part of a wider cluster of fundamental human rights that include discrimination, personal injury and accident compensation. I work to protect these rights by taking grievances on behalf of employees or by defending employers and introducing systems to facilitate cost-effective compliance in companies. I litigate in all forums and achieve good results at mediation.