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(NZ) Changes to Family Court purport to provide for more openness

Govt. claims new rules, contained in the Family Courts Matters Act, will increase the openness of the Family Court.

These type of announcements and 'changes' tend typically not to mean much substantive.

Note that "If the judge agrees, parties can bring a support person to the hearing. Others will be able to attend with the judges permission. The judge can ask anyone to leave the courtroom." So judges can prevent in-court monitoring of their antics.

Changes bring transparency to Family Court


Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon Georgina te Heuheu
Minister for Courts

Media Statement
15 May 2009

Changes bring transparency to Family Court

New rules affecting the reporting of Family Court proceedings take effect on Monday (subs: 18 May 2009).

Courts Minister Georgina te Heuheu says the new rules, contained in the Family Courts Matters Act, will increase the openness of the Family Court.

The changes will help the public gain a better understanding of how the Family Court operates and allow people to tell their side of the story, while protecting the privacy of those involved, she says.

To help improve the openness of the Family Courts, news media reporters will be able to attend hearings. Reports of Family Court proceedings can be published provided there is no information identifying children or vulnerable people without leave of the judge. This is similar to the existing provisions in the Care of Children Act.

If the judge agrees, parties can bring a support person to the hearing. Others will be able to attend with the judges permission. The judge can ask anyone to leave the courtroom.

Mrs te Heuheu says other minor process and procedural changes are designed to improve the operation of the Family Court.

For example, Family Court registrars will be able to do certain things previously only done by judges.

Judges will be able to direct registrars to appoint lawyers and specialist report writers and registrars will be able to issue a summons under the Domestic Violence Act and direct that additional people should be served with applications under the Family Protection Act.

The changes taking effect on Monday are the first stage of the Family Courts Matters legislation. Other parts of the legislation yet to come into force include changes to counselling for couples and parents under the Family Proceedings Act and the Care of Children Act, and the introduction of counselling for children and family mediation. They will take effect when detailed planning for the new services has been completed.


New family court rules to improve openness

Stuff.co.nz
15 May 2009

New family court rules to improve openness

NZPA - New rules, including more powers for registrars and increased media access, will be introduced to the Family Court on Monday.

The rules, contained in the Family Courts Matters Act, would increase the openness of the court and help the public understand how it operated, Courts Minister Georgina te Heuheu said.

News media would now be able to attend hearings and publish proceedings, but not information identifying children or vulnerable people without leave of the judge, while support people and others would be able to attend with a judge's permission.

Mrs te Heuheu said other minor process and procedural changes were designed to improve the operation of the court.

Registrars would be able to appoint lawyers and report writers with a judge's direction, issue summonses under the Domestic Violence Act and direct the serving of applications under the Family Protection Act.

The changes taking effect on Monday are the first stage of the Family Courts Matters legislation, with changes to counselling for couples and parents , and the introduction of counselling for children and family mediation to take effect in the future.

Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier said the new Act "dramatically opened up the Family Court even further to appropriate public scrutiny".

The court was sometimes viewed as a "secret" court, he said, and along with greater openness the Act would increase the professionalism and quality of service of the court.

"There has been the need to balance openness and the public's right to know with reasonable preservation of privacy, particularly for those who require the court's protection because of their vulnerability," Judge Boshier said.

"I believe the balance arrived at is the correct one for our times."

These articles do not suggest that the NZ courts have yet reached the transparency of the Australian Family courts.

There are judges here who appreciate that an SRL supported member assists in a more expedient trial.

If a judge causes an SRL to stand alone then that is suggestive of enforcing priviledges of the legal industry.

In the FCoA I have observed both scenarios. Recently Le Poer Trench denied an SRL to have sit beside him. The SRL then was required to turn his back on the judge and converse with his support person sitting on the seats at the rear of the courtroom. That was unwarranted as time was consumed in the process unnecessarily.

Waddy J., on the other hand, has allowed a support person to sit beside an SRL.

There is a need for consistency.

With solicitors able to file documents online and SRLs not able to effect the same, the trend is pointing away from SRLs.

Perhaps more justice for SRLs here on the western side of the ditch might eventually drift eastwards.

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA


What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
They are still a long way behind us. The courts are now publishing many more judgements which is similar to NZ.

We still have significant advantages in Legislative directions to the courts. Perhaps when we have time we could compare. New Zealand groups are disappointed in respect to getting orders reflecting anything like shared parenting outcomes.  Barry Williams LFAA has a number of contacts in NZ he is working with.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
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