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Law Society comment on judicial specialisation debate

Law Society comment on judicial specialisation debate

The current debate on whether we should move towards a justice system in which High Court judges specialise in particular areas of law should focus on the issues and not personalities, New Zealand Law Society President Jonathan Temm said today.

Public comments this week by Auckland lawyer Tony Molloy QC have been very critical of the standard of some New Zealand judges. The Attorney-General, Christopher Finlayson, has been reported as having taken exception to Mr Molloy’s comments.

Mr Temm said it was understandable that some people prominent in the justice system were passionate about how the best possible courts system could be achieved.

“However, I believe the best way to ensure the debate has meaning and produces constructive results is if it is conducted through the appropriate channels set up for law reform. Comments critical of the judiciary add nothing to the intellectual debate.

“People who criticise the judiciary should always bear in mind that the judiciary is unable to publicly defend itself. It should not be forgotten that it is contrary to the etiquette of the legal profession to personally criticise the judiciary publicly. Other mechanisms exist to raises issues and concerns.”

The Law Commission is currently looking at the whole issue of judicial specialisation and other matters related to its review of the Judicature Act 1908.

 “Under the initiative of the Law Commission, we are currently considering a number of significant and far-reaching changes to the way our courts operate. The debate needs to be directed at achieving a result which is best for New Zealand,” Mr Temm said.

The Law Society’s submission on judicial specialisation says it is supportive of panels in some areas of law.


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