Employment Advocate vs Employment Lawyer: A comparative analysis between New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom
New Zealand is facing a burgeoning number of employment advocates in its legal system, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of the enactment of the Employment Relations Act (ERA) 2000, New Zealand’s parliament intended that employment disputes be resolved in a non-adversarial and efficient manner that required little legal representation. Employment advocates are meant to meet that need; a relatable agent for an employment litigant that resolves disputes faster and cheaper. However, there have been increasing concerns from the employment judges, the New Zealand Law Society, lawyers and the public about the professionalism and competency of employment advocates. Recent case law questions whether employment advocates can continue to operate without restrictions or an oversight body. This paper demonstrates why some employment advocates operate below the standards expected by the courts and the impact it has on their employment litigants or clients. An international comparison to paid agents in Australia and McKenzie friends in the United Kingdom is also included. This paper recommends that the current operations of employment advocates undermine employment litigants’ access to justice and that New Zealand’s parliament needs to reconsider the role of employment advocates in employment disputes.
Copyright (c) 2023 The author and NZJER
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.