All members of the legal profession have a paramount duty to the court and to
the administration of justice, which prevails over all other duties, especially
in cases where a conflict occurs in duties, and these affects professional
conduct of lawyer with their client and each member has to make sure to maintain
independent and impartial administration of justice. It is the prime duty of
lawyers to provide competent assistance to the courts and also promote public
confidence in the court system with integrity.
Professional ethics are principles that govern the behavior of a person or group
in a business environment. Like values, professional ethics provide rules on how
a person should act towards other people and institutions in such an
Unlike values, professional ethics are often codified as a set of rules, which a
particular group of people use. This means that all those in a particular group
will use the same professional ethics, even though their values may be unique to
each person. The Code is an example of a codified set of professional ethics for
those who choose to enter the immigration advice profession.
Ethical principles underpin all professional codes of conduct. Ethical
principles may differ depending on the profession; for example, professional
ethics that relate to medical practitioners will differ from those that relate
to lawyers or real estate agents.
However, there are some universal ethical principles that apply across all
- respect for others
- adherence to the law
- doing good and avoiding harm to others
Codes of conduct
Professional codes of conduct draw on these professional ethical principles as
the basis for prescribing required standards of behaviour for members of a
profession. They also seek to set out the expectations that the profession and
society have of its members.
The intention of codes of conduct is to provide guidelines for the minimum
standard of appropriate behaviour in a professional context. Codes of conduct
sit alongside the general law of the land and the personal values of members of
the profession. The primary value of a professional code of conduct is not as a
checklist for disciplining non-conforming members, although breaches of a code
of conduct usually do carry a professional disciplinary consequence. Rather, its
primary value is to act as a prompt sheet for the promotion of ethical
decision-making by members of that profession.
Professional codes of conduct provide benefits to:
- The public, as they build confidence in the profession's trustworthiness
- Clients, as they provide greater transparency and certainty about how
their affairs will be handled
- Members of the profession, as they provide a supporting framework for
resisting pressure to act inappropriately, and for making acceptable
decisions in what may be 'grey areas'
- The profession as a whole, as they provide a common understanding of
acceptable practice which builds collegiality and allows for fairer
- Others dealing with the profession, as the profession will be seen as
more reliable and easier to deal with.
Other Contributors To Professional Ethics:
When an adviser agrees to assist a client, they agree to take on a level of
responsibility for that person and their immigration matter. The client becomes
dependent on the adviser in relation to that assistance. This is a fiduciary
relationship between the fiduciary (the adviser) and a principal (the client).
Even without a Code this fiduciary relationship means the adviser has certain
obligations to their client.
When an adviser enters into a contract (or written agreement) with a client this
creates legally binding obligations to perform the terms of the contract in a
particular way. This includes a duty to act with diligence, due care and skill,
and also implies obligations such as confidentiality and honesty, even if they
are not specifically set out in the contract.
Many ethical issues are likely to stem from advisers' relationships with
clients. Most of these can be overcome by having clear terms in a written
agreement about how certain matters will be dealt with, such as the sharing of
confidential information, the use of interpreters, refunds and invoicing.
As well as New Zealand immigration legislation, advisers should also be aware of
other relevant laws that seek to regulate how service providers must behave. In
New Zealand this could include the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993. Advisers
operating outside of New Zealand should make sure that they are familiar with
any equivalent legislation that governs the behavior of service providers there.