Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer
Embargoed until 4.00pm, 14 July 2008
“Reform of our system of tribunals is long overdue”, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, President of the Law Commission said today.
Tribunals are very important to citizens. They deal with people’s income, their housing, their motorcars.
While tribunals and their members do their best, there are a lot of problems. The system has grown up willy nilly, and lacks coherence and leadership.
There is a lot of inconsistency in how tribunals work, and often not enough information is available to people about them.
Sir Geoffrey welcomed the Government’s consultation paper on tribunals reform issued today. It contains proposals for reform which the Law Commission supports, he said.
The Commission has worked jointly with the Ministry of Justice on the tribunals project. The Commission issued a paper in early 2008 which described all the problems with the present system, and got helpful public feedback.
The Commission, with the Ministry, examined a number of possible models for reform, including some from overseas.
The proposal settled on is one tailored to New Zealand’s needs. It would, by legislative reform, improve tribunals’ procedures. It would also place some, but not all, tribunals in a new structure under the leadership of a principal judge.
“The challenge has been to get a proposal which keeps the good things about the present system, and recognises necessary differences between tribunals, but improves the service to users by providing a proper structure,” Sir Geoffrey concluded.
The Commission and the Ministry will continue to work together during the process of getting feedback on the consultation document, and on the further detailed work that will then need to be done.