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UK Supreme Court Move Good News for New Zealand?

UK Supreme Court Move Good News for New Zealand?

United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to remove Ministerial input from the appointment of judges to the proposed top court in the UK -this removes one of the odd arguments pushed those supporting the dumping our right of appeal to the Privy Council, ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"They argue that fears of political influence and local biases, when judges are appointed by New Zealand politicians, were irrelevant, because the Privy Council judges could be subject to political appointment by the British government," Mr Franks said.

"The argument missed the point - that having a neutral international referee is intended only to avoid local conflicts of interest.

"There is nothing in the announcement, so far, to say that the Privy Council will be affected by Mr Blair's changes. New Zealand Court of Appeal judges sit on the Privy Council, and there is no reason why the current House of Lords judges should not continue to sit on the Privy Council as they do now, after they are relabelled as UK Supreme Court judges.

"Britain's changes will be a chance for our Government to `spin' the story. They will imply that it means we cannot delay, that everything in Britain is uncertain and confused, and that we will have no choice but to set up our own Supreme Court.

"There is nothing in the announcements so far to justify any such conclusions. The British government may take the opportunity to charge us for the superb services we have been received free so far.

"But they are well aware of the value to London of being the place the world comes for judging as a matter of choice. They are highly unlikely to do anything to make the new Supreme Court less suitable as an international neutral referee for non-English subjects. Indeed, current indications are that the Privy Council's role will be expanded to deal with Scottish and Welsh matters in the same way as it currently deals with New Zealand and other separate territory matters," Mr Franks said.

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