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Public urged to have their say on judge appointed

Public urged to have their say on way judges appointed

Attorney-General Margaret Wilson today released a public consultation paper encouraging New Zealanders to have their say on the way judges are appointed in this country.

“The Ministry of Justice paper explores the idea of setting up a Judicial Appointment Commission for New Zealand,” she says. “Such commissions operate in a number of countries including the United States, Canada and South Africa. And the British Government has recently introduced legislation proposing similar commissions be established in the United Kingdom.”

Currently all judges in this country are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Attorney-General who in turns takes advice from the Solicitor-General and the Chief Justice and/or the Chief Judge of court to which the appointment is made.

Margaret Wilson says the country has been well served by its judges, both current and past, and over many decades Attorneys-General and other Ministers have undertaken their roles in recommending judicial appointments with due diligence and integrity.

“However, from time to time, commentators have asked whether the appointment process could be improved, possibly by establishing a judicial appointments commission to identify and recommend suitable candidates for judicial office. Last year a number of submissions on the legislation establishing our Supreme Court supported the call for a judicial appointments commission.”

Providing an opportunity for wider discussion on the issue is all part of maintaining public confidence in the judiciary and ensuring its ongoing independence, Margaret Wilson says. Copies of the consultation paper, Appointing Judges: A Judicial Appointment Commission For New Zealand?, are available at www.justice.govt.nz or by contacting the Ministry of Justice on (04) 918 8800. The closing date for submissions is 30 July.

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