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Wilson Even Softer on the Wrongdoers

Wilson Even Softer on the Wrongdoers

Tuesday 18 Jun 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

Attorney General Margaret Wilson's decision to reduce the interest rates that can be charged on court debts and damages is yet another whack at people trying to seek justice.

"The courts will lose the flexibility and the discretion they have at the moment. They don't have to award interest, but they can, to compensate the person who has already had all the risk and expense of having to sue to get what they are owed. Already any sensible lawyer will tell you it is not worth suing for much under $10,000 if there is any kind of complexity. Legal costs eat it all up.

"Why has this been done? The rates weren't increased when interest rates in this country were well into double figures - so why lower them now?

"It is highly inappropriate to base the interest rates for debt recovery on the first mortgage interest rate average. Home mortgages are very low-risk lending. Court debts or damages are high risk. Enforcement is so poor there is a good chance a person being awarded damages will never get the full amount they are owed. Surely basing the court interest rate on unsecured debt rates would have been much more sensible.

"To announce this during an election campaign shows unbelievable complacency. This Government is now so arrogant that it is happy to announce a measure blatantly in favour of wrongdoers, during an election campaign," Stephen Franks said.

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