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Smith: Raised court costs a mockery of justice

Wed, 2 Jun 2004 2 June, 2004

Smith: Raised court costs a mockery of justice

The Government's decision to significantly increase court fees puts a lie to its promise to provide better access to justice, United Future justice spokesman Murray Smith said today.

Just a few weeks after the Government published the Law Commissions paper Delivering Justice for All, and started talking about a plethora of Community Courts around the country, it has raised the barriers to New Zealanders being able to obtain justice, Mr Smith said.

"Upping the costs does one thing and one thing only - it puts the courts out of reach for more New Zealanders," he said.

The move is also a kiss of death to the Community Court proposal.

"Clearly this Government has no interest in promoting what would be a very costly move without requiring user-pays from those meant to benefit from it. And that would simply be self-defeating," Mr Smith said.

The increased fees will hit small businesses hardest, he said.

"One of the biggest costs to many small businesses is chasing recalcitrant debtors. Already the cost of chasing debtors often exceeds the debt and is uneconomic to pursue, particularly when, even if they get a judgment, they then have to pay to get it enforced.

"Other than the Government, the only people who will benefit from this decision will be the 'professional' bludgers who regularly gets goods and services from hard working businesses and don't pay for them," Mr Smith said.

ENDS

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