The Law Society is an important participant in New Zealand law reform. One key focus is the NZLS submissions on many Bills referred to select committees and on discussion papers from government agencies. In the year to 30 June 2011, NZLS made submissions on 32 Bills, appeared at 26 select committee hearings and commented on 65 discussion documents (including 4 Law Commission papers).
Law reform is one of the Law Society’s statutory functions – the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 requires NZLS "to assist and promote, for the purpose of upholding the rule of law and facilitating the administration of justice in New Zealand, the reform of the law" (section 65(e)). Priority is given to proposed legislation that affects the legal profession directly (such as legal aid), “lawyers’ law” (substantive or procedural rules, for example re the organisation and practice of the courts, the law of evidence and so on), and legislation with constitutional or New Zealand Bill of Rights implications.
Much time, energy and effort go into the submissions – reflecting that this is an important part of the Law Society’s external communications, and engagement with government decision-makers. NZLS has a reputation for making an impartial and considered contribution to law reform, the administration of justice and the rule of law.
NZLS law reform work is only made possible by the hard work and commitment of the committee members who volunteer their expertise and time for the benefit of the profession and the wider community. This work makes a real contribution to supporting the administration of justice and rule of law in New Zealand. Sincere thanks are due to all committee members.
The NZLS Law Reform Committee prepares submissions, with assistance from one or more of 16 specialist committees, and the Property Law and Family Law Sections. While the work is carried out by the committees and Sections, care is taken to ensure all NZLS members and branch committees have the opportunity to participate – current law reform projects are publicised in the weekly LawPoints e-bulletin to members and on my.lawsociety. The Law Society’s submissions and comments can be accessed on the NZLS website.