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Less Law - Not More Courts

Less Law - Not More Courts

Wednesday 3 Dec 2003
Stephen Franks
Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today deplored the Law Commission's warning that it is about to recommend yet another layer of `people's courts' to deal with New Zealand's ballooning law suits and prosecutions.

"The Law Commission demands ever more `resources' and courts to feed the vast legal industry, rather than trying to address the problem," Mr Franks said.

"For 30 years, our judge numbers have been growing at nine times the rate of population growth. In that time, the proportion of New Zealand's resources devoted to crying over spilt milk and laying blame has grown at nearly 10 times the rate of population growth.

"When I began practice 30 years ago, New Zealand had just over 60 judges in three levels of court. In addition, there were various licensing tribunals, the planning tribunal and the arbitration court. Allowing for full-time equivalents on these bodies, New Zealand would have had around 40,000 people per judge.

"Thirty years later, we have four times that number of judges, at around 14,000 people per judge. This includes new masters in bodies like the Employment Relations Authority, Commerce Commission, ACC Appeals Authority, Human Rights Review Tribunal, Refugee Status Appeal Authority, Waitangi Tribunal and the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal - although some may not be full-time.

"It does not include the hundreds of new rulers drawing fees from sitting on countless local authority RMA Consent Committees.

"Every extra judge represents a costly nest of additional investigators, counsellors and expert witnesses. Lawyer numbers have mushroomed, from 3,000 30 years ago to over 9,000 today - all living off the unfortunates caught up in the `dispute resolution' industry.

"The Law Commission says the solution is a new layer of courts to hear minor cases. If it were doing its job, it would tell the Government that nothing will cure the expense, slowness, alienation and injustice of a culture focused on whinging - for so long as the Government simply piles law on top of regulation, on top of directive, on top of discretion.

"Of course, as a quango anointed by Labour to produce more law, the Law Commission will never do what it should - it will just continue to produce rubbish laws and regulation. In the end, they'll go on the bonfire ACT will have to light to liberate New Zealanders from lawyers' clutches," Mr Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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