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Law Commission Report A Mixed Bag

16 March 2004


Law Commission report a mixed bag

The Law Commission's report "Delivering Justice For All" contains some
useful ideas, but large parts of it are simply change for the sake of
change, say National MPs Richard Worth and Tony Ryall.

"If the Government is truly concerned about access to justice then
priority should be given to increased court resources, new technology and
improved case management, rather than trialling new structures with their
associated costs.

"Many of the recommendations of the commission would not be supported by
National. Among the more striking are:

* A national network for the provision of initial legal advice where the
interface with the present Legal Aid system is not clear.
* Establishing an additional court to be known as the Community Court with
power to imprison for up to ten years and with a responsibility for
preliminary hearings of indictable offences.
* Scrapping the exercise of judicial functions by Justices of the Peace.
* Retaining the Employment Court as a specialist court rather than merge
it within the existing courts structure.
* The increase in jurisdiction of the Maori Land Court to include all
disputes involving communal Maori assets.
* The decision that family proceedings should remain closed to the general
public.

"The strike rate of the commission in implementing its reports through
legislation is not brilliant. The danger is that the proposals in the
report which are of merit will not be translated into action.

"Victims and defendants are waiting too long for their cases to be heard.
Shifting the front doors is not going to speed things up. That should be
the priority, as National has been stating for the past six months," said
Mr Worth & Mr Ryall.


Ends

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