11 Mar 2018

Law Society: 'We know that there is an issue with the system'

9:42 pm on 11 March 2018

The Law Society is determined to do a thorough job in its sexual harassment investigation and hopes the government won't need to intervene, its president says.

Law Society President Kathryn Beck.

Law Society President Kathryn Beck says the Society is ready to make a change. Photo: Supplied / Law Society

Justice Minister Andrew Little has said he would consider a ministerial inquiry if the Society's work to fix sexual harassment and misconduct in the profession was not up to scratch.

The Law Society has formed a working group to help solve the problem.

The move comes after law firm Russell McVeagh was put in the spotlight over allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and an alleged incident of sexual assault.

President Kathryn Beck said she understood why the minister was concerned but the organisation - which regulates lawyers - was ready to make a change.

"We know that there is an issue with the system if we're not hearing about these things, either because people don't know that that's where they should go or they are not comfortable going there, either way we need to fix that."

Mr Little said yesterday he had heard reports that the society had ignored serious allegations of this nature in the past.

He said he had no problem intervening if the Society wasn't up to the job.

"The option I would have would really be a ministerial inquiry, something of that sort of nature, to represent a public interest in ensuring that the Law Society does its job of making sure that the profession is one that has standards, including standards of conduct towards its own employees, that's what's in question at the moment."

The allegations signified abuses of power within the industry, Mr Little said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs