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Judges Need Not Fear An Open Family Court

Judges Need Not Fear An Open Family Court

Thursday 22 Apr 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

Opening up the Family Court to public scrutiny is the cheapest and simplest solution to Chief Family Judge Peter Boshier's claims the Family Court has become a `supermarket court with judges expected to rule on everything from choices of school to choices of surname', ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"In other countries where the family court has been opened to the public, the number of cases dropped dramatically - when couples can see what's ahead of them, many realise that mediation is a better option," Dr Newman said.

"Opening up the Family Court would significantly reduce its workload, as well as the cost to the taxpayer in legal aid. Further, opening the court would cut the number of false allegations - an extremely difficult area for Family Court judges - making the job far simpler.

"The fact that so many positive changes would occur through opening up the Family Court - without the need for complex bureaucratic changes to the way it operates - should appeal to those who work in the court system.

"I would also take this opportunity to assure the judiciary that - while a momentum for more openness in the Family Court is building - at no time has anyone suggested removing the full power of discretion for judges to close the court for cases they believe are too sensitive, or to protect the identity of the individuals who come before them," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

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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