Issues Paper Re: A Register Of Judges’ Pecuniary Interests
Media Release Hon Justice Grant Hammond President Law Commission
Tuesday 8th March 2011
RELEASE OF LAW COMMISSION ISSUES PAPER RELATING TO
A REGISTER OF JUDGES’ PECUNIARY INTERESTS
The Law Commission today released an Issues Paper for public consultation, “Towards a New Courts Act – A Register of Judges’ Pecuniary Interests?”
The Law Commission is reviewing the Judicature Act 1908, with a view to consolidating the New Zealand legislation relating to the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court, and the judges of those courts, into one new Courts Act. The aim is to make the law more accessible to citizens, more user-friendly, and efficient.
“The Judicature Act 1908 has been amended 44 times over the past 100 years,” says the Hon Justice Grant Hammond, the President of the Law Commission. “The Act is untidy, out of date, and has lost its coherence. The legislation relating to the Supreme Court of New Zealand is in another statute, which further confuses the overall picture.”
Since the reference was given to the Commission, a Member’s Bill has been introduced into Parliament suggesting the creation of a register of judges’ pecuniary interests, along the lines of the present register relating to members of Parliament. That Bill (introduced by Green MP, Dr Kennedy Graham) is on the Parliamentary Order Paper. It has not yet had a first reading. 2
The subject matter of the Bill has implications for the Commission’s present reference. Further fragmentation of the legislation relating to courts and judges is undesirable. This subject area would be better dealt with in a prospective, consolidated Courts Act.
The Commission has therefore prepared an Issues Paper designed to enable it to consult fully with the legal profession, the public, and the judiciary about this subject.
The Issues Paper sets out the present law in New Zealand, and describes the evolution of schemes of this kind in other jurisdictions. It asks whether the existing common law as to the recusal of judges for pecuniary interests is satisfactory, or whether legislative amendment is required. It seeks views on whether a register of judges’ pecuniary interests is necessary or appropriate in New Zealand, and discusses the issues raised.
The Commission welcomes any comments or submissions on the Issues Paper. The closing date for submissions is Wednesday 1 June 2011. The Issues Paper is available from the Law Commission’s website http://www.lawcom.govt.nz