Minister’s request to defer Bill welcomed

The New Zealand Law Society has welcomed the request by Justice Minister Judith Collins for the Legal Assistance (Sustainability) Bill to be deferred until completion of the Family Courts Review.

Law Society President Jonathan Temm says the Minister’s action in requesting the Justice and Electoral committee to defer the Bill shows that she appreciates the wider implications of the Bill.

“The Law Society and a number of other organisations made strong submissions to the committee calling for deferral of the Bill. We are very pleased that the Minister has listened to the arguments and agrees that it is sensible to take a wider view of the whole issue of the place of legal aid in the Family Courts system.”

Mr Temm says the Law Society told the committee that the Bill attempted to bring Family Court appointment of lawyers into the legal aid system without any investigation of the social consequences. It was also in isolation from the major review of the Family Courts which had been initiated last year.

“We say the Bill is a piecemeal response to very important matters which affect access to justice and some of the most vulnerable groups of people in New Zealand. The Minister’s decision to ask for deferral shows she is listening and is focused on the bigger picture.”