Explaining a dispute in an online court – a new project

I’ve put together a research project that looks to a future where New Zealand is likely to follow the online court trend, a trend that is already taking off in British Columbia and England and Wales. The study is co-funded by the University of Otago Legal Issues Centre and a generous grant from the New …

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The clash between efficiency and justice: it isn’t just a criminal law problem

Our Chief Justice recently gave an insightful and searing speech (as is her custom) on the state of our criminal justice system called “Managing Criminal Justice”. I commend reading the speech in full, there is a lot there. There is also an interesting interview with the President of the Criminal Bar Association about the speech …

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Access to the courts in Sellman v Slater

Should anyone be able to access the court to vindicate their legal rights? Or should the court prevent access if there is only minimal harm or minimal financial gain at stake? That is a question addressed in Justice Palmer’s decision handed down this week in Sellman v Slater [2017] NZHC 2392. This case involves the …

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Your Lawyer Story – an experiment

The University of Otago Legal Issues Centre is launching a small experiment today - we want to see if we can gather up some experiences from clients about finding a lawyer and working with lawyers. The website is yourlawyerstory.org.nz and is based on story sharing websites in various parts of the community sector. The impetus for …

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Judge Posner and Litigants in Person

Judge Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has made a big splash by resigning suddenly. He gave an interview to the New York Times' Adam Liptak about why he did so. The headline reason is as follows: ‘About six months ago,’ Judge Posner said, “I awoke from a slumber …

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Who are the court users?

I wanted to pick up my argument from a couple of weeks ago about user-centred courts and share some data about who is using the New Zealand High Court. I’m currently up to my elbows in data, attempting to finish the overview report for our current project, Undue Delays in Civil High Court Cases: Fact …

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No costs for ghostwriting – a sad day for unbundling

The short judgment in Sax v Simpson & Anor [2017] NZHC 1128 is a disappointing blow to unbundled assistance in New Zealand. It concerns the question of whether costs can be awarded to a successful litigant in person (LiP) where their submissions were ghostwritten by a lawyer. The New Zealand rule is that litigants in …

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Being user-centred? A report from Reshaping Justice, NSW Law and Justice Foundation

I had the pleasure of attending “Reshaping Justice” in Sydney this week, a conference held to celebrate the NSW Law and Justice Foundation’s 50th birthday. As much as it pains me to say it, the Australians are well ahead of New Zealand in their efforts to engage with issues in access to justice issues and …

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Open justice means being allowed to take notes in court

"There is no good reason why the starting point should be that note-taking is not allowed unless permission has been sought and granted"

Bringing the litigants in from the cold: Litigants attending case management conferences

In research I’m leading at the moment on whether there is undue delay in New Zealand High Court civil proceedings, co-funded by the NZ Law Foundation, I’ve been reflecting on the flow of information between the courts and litigants. The traditional model is that courts do not communicate directly with litigants. Lawyers are the agent …

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