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Govt shows incompetence and bad faith

Govt shows incompetence and bad faith

Delays in New Zealand's small claims courts are set to get even longer now that Dispute Tribunal Referees are taking unprecedented industrial action, says National MP Tony Ryall.

Referees are angry at the bad faith shown by the Government in reviewing fee levels for the Disputes Tribunal, and are taking industrial action from next Monday (16th February).

"The Government has dealt with this issue incompetently and with no respect for judicial independence," said Mr Ryall.

"It is the ordinary people using the small claims system who will have to carry the can because of this incompetence. It will take even longer for people to have their case heard and for justice to be done.

"What more can the Disputes Tribunal Referees do? They have been misled at every turn by the Government. A final decision was due in October 2002, which was slipped secretly to December 2002, then July 2003, with even more empty promises this month.

"The Government is expanding the jurisdiction of the small claims system without any recognition of increased workload and complexity. Claims of up to $12,500 can now be heard with plans to go even higher.

"Over the past months National has highlighted the failing justice system with longer and longer queues and more and more cases being dismissed because of the delays.

"Running a decent justice system should be a first priority for any democracy. Helen Clark is letting our system fall into disrepair, and this unprecedented industrial action is more evidence of that.

"Referees warned Helen Clark last October that direct action was coming, and the Prime Minister has done nothing," said Mr Ryall.

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