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Some reservations over statutes revision

10 October 2014

The New Zealand Law Society says it is cautious about a Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) proposal to revise and consolidate a number of older statutes.

The PCO is consulting on its first statutes revision programme under the Legislation Act 2012. The Contracts and Commercial Revision Bill, expected to be enacted during the three-year revision period, will revise and consolidate 11 statutes. The revision programme says these are “largely older acts that are expressed in language that is out of date and many provisions have been repealed”. It says their consolidation in a modern form will make them more accessible and reduce regulatory costs for business.

In comments to the PCO on the programme, the Law Society expresses caution about changing statutory language which supports well-established judicial interpretation.

It acknowledges that the independent certification process seeks to avoid any unintended consequences.

“However, whether or not changes to well-understood provisions would affect future judicial interpretation of those provisions cannot be predicted with certainty,” the Law Society says.“There is a real concern that a change in wording could change established legal principles, particularly where statutory drafting is already clear on its ordinary reading, even though its language is more formal than common parlance today.”

The Law Society says most of the 11 acts work well and do not need to be altered.

Recent submissions

The Law Society recently filed submissions on:

  • Contempt in Modern New Zealand: Law Commission issues paper 36;
  • XPB0041 Income Tax – Timing of disposal and derivation of income from trading stock;
  • Legal aid, public protection orders – proposed fixed fees; and
  • Disclosure of information in relation to securitisation – potential exemptions.

These are at www.lawsociety.org.nz/news-and-communications/law-reform-submissions.

Coming up

The Law Society is preparing submissions on numerous bills and government discussion documents. Members are welcome to contribute comments on these. For a list of upcoming submission deadlines and information about how to participate, visit my.lawsociety.org.nz/law-reform/work-in-progress. For more information on NZLS law reform activities, contact vicky.stanbridge@lawsociety.org.nz.

Last updated on the 17th March 2016