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Court industrial action now a threat to safety

15 November 2018

A serious incident at the Christchurch District Court this morning was a direct result of the situation created by the unresolved collective bargaining between the Ministry of Justice and court staff who are members of the PSA, the New Zealand Law Society says.

“From being disruptive of court hearings, this situation has now shown that the safety of people attending the court is at increased risk,” New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck says.

“The lawyer for a defendant who was required to appear in court became aware earlier this week that gang members hostile to him were likely to be present. The industrial action meant the lawyer was unable to request an appearance by Audio Visual Link (AVL). She firmly believes that given the circumstances an AVL application would have been granted and the violence would not have occurred in the court room.

“The New Zealand Law Society is strictly neutral on the issues between the ministry and the PSA and we are not aware of what steps, if any, were taken to manage the increased risk. However, the incident today has clearly demonstrated what can happen when court procedures cannot be fully utilised because of the industrial dispute.

“We urge the parties to consider the serious impact which the industrial dispute is having on our court system and would encourage them to do all they can to come to a resolution.”

ends

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