Where have all the lawyers gone? The shortage of civil legal aid providers

The Sunday Star Times, a nationally distributed paper, ran a story this weekend on access to civil legal aid. This was quite surprising (and pleasing), as it tends not be a headline grabbing topic. It was likely picked up from the article in this month’s LawTalk written by lawyer Steven Zindell, which uses statistics he …

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Explaining legal process – animated video series

The Legal Issues Centre (the Research Centre that I direct) has just released a series of animated videos explaining New Zealand’s civil legal process. We’ve set up a YouTube channel and have released an initial series of nine videos. The idea for this project came out of my thesis work on litigants in person. I had …

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LawFest 2018 – a review and some reflections on communicating with clients

I was back for LawFest 2018 having attended for the first-time last year. Sir Ray Avery gave an excellent keynote, pointing out three aspects of New Zealand culture that makes us a country where innovation can occur with ease: we are not fond of rules, happy to shake up the status quo, and we dare …

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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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