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Bar Association calls on group to offer evidence to Parliament about Family Court system

22 May 2017

The New Zealand Bar Association says caution needs to be exercised when allegations of systematic bias are levelled against the Family Court.

Last week the Backbone Collective issued a statement headlined “Women from Backbone are appalled at lack of accountability in Family Court system. Those in charge of The Family Court refuse to listen to women.”

The New Zealand Law Society said the statement was, at best, unhelpful and, at worst, misguided.

The Bar Association has responded to the Backbone’s move, saying their evidence contains holes.

“What it offers by way of evidence is largely anecdotal evidence from 10 women.  If it (the Backbone Collective) has compelling evidence supporting its allegations, it should present it to Parliament,” the Association says in a statement.  

“The opportunity to consider such evidence would be welcomed by those of our members involved in family law. Family lawyers act at the ‘coalface', for individual women, men and children. They are an effective watchdog of family justice.  

“They have no vested interest in a biased or discriminatory system nor in promoting the interests of any particular gender of client.  In any case where a client has not been treated appropriately by the Family Court, family lawyers are there to advocate that justice be done, through appeal, judicial review or by lobbying for law change.  

“If systemic failures and biases exist in the Family Court, such as are suggested by the Backbone Collective, then family lawyers would lead the demand for change.”

Last updated on the 16th September 2019