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Govt Can't Hide Court Fee Increases

The Government's attempts to hide an increase in court fees by extending fee waiver provisions are deplorable, National's Courts spokesperson Richard Worth said today.

The Justice and Electoral Select Committee's report on the Court Fees (Waiver) Bill was tabled today. The Bill brings court fee waiver provisions for the District Court in line with the High Court whereby the court can waive, reduce or postpone civil court fees in individual cases.

"The motivation behind this Bill is completely transparent. The Government is imposing increases to court fees of 105% in the District Court and 305% in the High Court on New Zealanders who cannot get legal aid.

"These increases will do more to deny access to justice than any Bill that gives a court the power to waive fees for a select few.

"The implementation of the waiver provisions will vary widely from court district to court district. It will become a lottery whether or not litigants would have to pay the published fees.

"The reasons for the haste with which this Bill has progressed through the legislative process are scarcely believable. The courts have been able to cope without these capricious and discretionary measures for decades.

"It is an extraordinary constitutional action to alter such fundamental law affecting the operation of the courts in this way," Mr Worth said.

The Bill was referred to the select committee on 9 August 2001 and the committee was required to report to the House by 10 September, allowing only one month to call for submissions and consider the legislation.

Ends


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