Wilson's law: ERB Mark II

Published: Tue 22 Aug 2000 03:30 PM
The fact that the Associate Minister of Justice can't explain how her own legislation should be interpreted shows how difficult it will be for judges to apply it in real life, National Justice spokesman Tony Ryall said.
"The Government proposes that the Courts be given the power to compare the parties' respective likely future incomes and future living standards after the breakup. If there are significant differences then the Courts may award a lump sum to the lower earning 'partner' by varying the 50/50 split.
"Professor Wilson has ignored the pleas of Judges to give them more direction by defining terms such as 'significant disparity'. The fact that there is so much discrepancy within the legal profession on what 'significant disparity' means, shows how confusing it will be.
"The Law Commission thinks that only a few people will be affected. A prominent family lawyer in Auckland thought maybe a $30,000 to $50,000 gap in income would be caught by the provision. Yet, the Women's Consultative Committee of the Law Society says that any difference would be covered no matter how small!
"If these people can't agree, it will be a nightmare trying to establish case law in our courts. Our judges will surely have diverse views on what 'significant disparity' means. Judges will be required to predict the future - what if the judge guesses wrongly?
"It is ridiculous to expect judges to exercise their discretion when no guidance has been given by the legislators. Professor Wilson should open her ears and listen to the concerns of the profession before this sloppy legislation becomes law," Mr Ryall said.

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