Family lawyers given update on Auckland Family Court issues

The New Zealand Law Society's Family Law Section has sent an email to all New Zealand family lawyers advising them of measures being taken to address issues arising in the Auckland Family Court due to the centralisation of court services.

Family Law Section chair Garry Collin says the advice is possible after a number of meetings and a letter from the Section to the ministry on 23 May. The Section took action after family lawyers reported problems with receiving information from the Family Courts. Their paramount concern was client safety.

He says as a short term solution, the ministry will be

  • employing up to 15 additional staff on a temporary basis through to 30 June;
  • reassigning staff from areas where there is less work to process incoming mail;
  • providing technical training to staff who were moved from another specialist area into the family area to enable them to properly carry out their new roles. A specialist team of staff is being put together to provide this training.

"A team of nine, experienced Family Court staff, from elsewhere around the country, is travelling up to Auckland to cover the positions of those new staff who are receiving the training, and to clear the backlog," Mr Collin says.

"A specialist Family Court trainer has been assigned and some training has already commenced. The bulk of the training will be undertaken in June."

If the backlog has not been cleared by 30 June, the ministry will continue to allocate the additional resource until it is cleared.

Mr Collin says the Ministry of Justice has given an assurance to the Family Law Section that it will provide an update on a weekly basis.

Any family lawyers who have concerns have been asked to email Kevin Robinson at kevin.robinson@justice.govt.nz with details of case/file number and information on the problem or issue. To help the Law Society monitor the situation, these emails should be copied to kath.moran@lawsociety.org.nz.

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