INDEPENDENT NEWS

What Drives The Law Society On Privy Council?

Published: Thu 18 Sep 2003 08:20 AM
What Drives The Law Society On Privy Council?
ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today asked whether the New Zealand Law Society is expressing solidarity with the politically correct sisterhood ahead of its members in welcoming of the abolition of our right of appeal to the Privy Council.
"As far as I know, every District Law Society which polled or surveyed its members received a resounding `thumbs down' to the Supreme Court Bill," Mr Franks said.
"Those District Societies represent an overwhelming majority of lawyers. The weight of lawyer submissions to the Select Committee was also opposed. Does Society President Christine Grice think she must appease Attorney-General Margaret Wilson, Prime Minister Helen Clark, and Dame Sian Elias's elevation to top of the new Supreme Court, through solidarity - or is it a political deal?
"Or is this just a price the Society's hierarchy thinks it must pay a potentially vindictive Government to secure passage of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill? A suspicious mind could see the NZLS keen to get the Bill through to cut the pesky District Societies down to size - after all, they had the temerity to poll their members for views on the Supreme Court, unlike the New Zealand Law Society.
"Sadly, even on the technical matters the Society purports to concentrate on, it gets things wrong. It says it is pleased the Committee recommendation has ensured six, instead of five, Supreme Court Judges.
"The change does nothing of the sort. It is carefully fudged to allow Ms Wilson to appoint five or six Judges. She will save money by sticking at five and using handpicked retired Judges as temporary fill ins.
"It's a pity when the Law Society doesn't read the fine print. At Select Committee the Society ducked the question of whether it favoured the abolition of appeal rights to the Privy Council, saying it confined itself to technical matters.
"Lawyers will be among the most active supporters of the petition for a referendum on a new Court. They need direct democracy because it appears their Society no longer speaks for them," Mr Franks said.

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