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Impressive New Zealand rule of law ranking saluted

Impressive New Zealand rule of law ranking saluted

New Zealand’s impressive performance in the influential World of Justice Project rule of law index has been celebrated by the New Zealand Law Society’s fortnightly magazine LawTalk.

In a front-page story in the latest issue, LawTalk quotes Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson as saying that New Zealand as a nation and lawyers as a profession can be very proud of this country’s very high ranking in the WJP index.

New Zealand ranked among the world’s best performers in the index, and best in the world in one of the eight categories measured – lack of corruption.

“It is gratifying to see this affirmation of the robustness of the rule of law in New Zealand,” Mr Finlayson told LawTalk. “The world-beating ranking in terms of lack of corruption in the judiciary was especially pleasing given some of the uninformed criticism of the courts in the last year.”

Mr Finlayson says the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Bar Association have both played an important role in upholding the values of the rule of law “as I have said on a number of occasions”.

“The New Zealand Law Society has demonstrated a real commitment to debating and promoting the discussion of rule of law issues,” he says.

LawTalk also cautions that in spite of the very good result for New Zealand, the Law Society will need to continue to be vigilant about rule of law matters.

The convenor of the Society’s Rule of Law Committee, Austin Forbes QC, says the WJP index is not really going to uncover such issues as Parliament’s use of urgency or the situation where regulations can alter Acts.

“We can’t afford to be complacent and we will continue to be concerned about rule of law issues,” Mr Forbes says.

The WJP Index, released annually, ranks 66 countries for a number of factors. As well as coming top in the absence of corruption factor, New Zealand was second in two categories: open government and limited government powers.

It was third in three more areas: fundamental rights, regulatory enforcement and effective criminal justice. While New Zealand ranked fourth in access to civil justice, this was an area where it received its lowest ranking, being 18th in the measure “civil justice is not subject to unreasonable delays”.

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