Reading this article, where are you located?

Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Whanganui, or one of the thousands of delightful rural locations of New Zealand in between?

It used to be thought that your lawyer must live locally to you, for meeting up with them, signing documentation, and attending court. 

Whilst this might seem to be normal and convenient - especially when matters are urgent - it is increasingly common for people to instruct their trusted lawyer from anywhere in the country, or frankly, anywhere in the world. 

Since COVID, the use of remote conferencing platforms has increased dramatically.  Their use has now become commonplace for solicitor/client meetings. 

This is the case whether the client is simply seeking to use a lunch hour meeting slot to best effect, without the hassle of travelling and parking, whether they are at the other end of the country, or busy living and working in our wonderful rural areas. 

Furthermore, conferencing platforms aren’t just useful for providing advice.  New Zealand law now recognises that most documents can be signed and witnessed remotely. 

All this takes is for a solicitor and client to agree to it, and an additional provision is added to the document being signed.  It doesn’t remove the signing formalities, which should still occur as if both the signatory and witness were in the same room, but it makes the process a lot easier, particularly if you live rurally. 

When it comes to Court attendances, the Court has also moved with the times.  It will routinely grant permission for shorter Court events to be attended remotely: by telephone, or audio-visual link.  It will also recognise that a remotely instructed lawyer is more likely to need to attend remotely, keeping cost down.

Although it is true that a substantive hearing involving oral evidence should be attended in person, in practise these types of hearings are few and far between. 

Chances are that you will get better value by instructing your lawyer of choice, wherever they are, and for them simply to travel to the hearing, or to brief a local lawyer specifically for that hearing.

You may also have concerns in a location with very few lawyers that along with lack of choice, you may feel uncomfortable about your privacy. Instructing the best lawyer remotely will ease your mind.

The bottom line is that you need not feel restricted in your choice of legal advisor.  If a firm has your trust, you can have the confidence to instruct them from anywhere in the world.