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Labour ignores concerns of legal profession

Chris Finlayson MP National Party Shadow Attorney-General

15 November 2007

Labour ignores concerns of legal profession on Evidence Act

The Labour Government has still not moved to recognise the advice given by overseas lawyers to New Zealanders, despite being warned of this matter in August, says National's Shadow Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson.

Officials from the Ministry of Justice today told the Justice and Electoral Select Committee that they would deal with the matter 'very soon'.

"That's simply not good enough.

"It is inexcusable for the Ministry to have dragged its feet on this issue.

"The damage to commercial interests as a result of the Ministry's delay could be huge.

"The standing of the New Zealand legal system is also being negatively affected because the current situation suggests we do not trust the legal systems of countries such as England, the US, and Canada."

The Evidence Act 2006 was given the Royal Assent on 4 December 2006 and didn't come into force until 1 August this year. That means the Ministry has had almost a year to ensure that everything was in readiness.

On the August 23, then Justice Minister Mark Burton told the House, 'the matter was raised two weeks ago. Officials have been instructed to thoroughly examine the issue and prepare advice, and that advice will be acted on quickly'.

"That's obviously not the case when officials are still making excuses.

"The new Minister needs to act on this issue, issue an Order-in-Council under Section 51 of the Evidence Act now, and end this shambles."

ENDS

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