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Law Society Backs Civil Court Fees Review

Civil court fees

The New Zealand Law Society and New Zealand Bar Association say the Regulations Review Committee report on civil court fee increases is of major constitutional significance. They have welcomed its recommendation that the Government undertake a review of the increases to alleviate concern that the fees are impeding access to the courts.

In a joint statement, Law Society President Chris Darlow and Bar Association President Jim Farmer QC said: “We expect the Government to take rapid and decisive action to correct a constitutional anomaly. Rationing access to justice by high civil court fees is not acceptable.”

The presidents pointed to a vital finding the select committee made: “We consider that access to justice is so fundamental that a move to use fees to ration access would require explicit legislative authority. Delegated legislation would be an inappropriate instrument for implementing a policy of rationing access to justice.”

The Law Society and the Bar Association provided evidence to the committee that the increase in fees was having the effect of rationing access to the courts. “We are gratified that these submissions have been accepted and thank the committee for its work”, the presidents said.

They hoped the Government would respond favourably to the Regulations Review Committee recommendation and said the fee increases for civil courts should be cut back in appropriate cases as identified by the committee.

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