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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Innovating legal services – LawFest report

I attended the rather awkwardly named LawFest in Auckland this week, now in its seventh year, but a first time for me. It is a one-day event on legal technology and innovation and I was interested to see what was happening in New Zealand. The answer is, quite a bit, although we still lag compared …

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Junior Barristers as McKenzie Friends – a new form of affordable legal assistance?

The decision in Craig v Slater (2017) NZHC  874 is a very interesting one for access to legal assistance. The case involves two now notorious characters – Colin Craig, a politician, and Cameron Slater, a blogger. My interest here is in the decision to allow a paid McKenzie friend to sit next to Mr Craig …

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Litigants are not “customers”

Litigants are not "customers". Litigation is a public good and language from the Ministry that suggests otherwise is something we should all be worried about.

Triage – a clinical cover for under-resourcing?

Triage is a concept long associated with managing medical emergencies. The OED defines it as: The assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses in order to decide the order or suitability of treatment. Triage is done is three categories (hence the “tri”) with “1” being the most urgent and “3” the least. The …

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