New Zealand Law Society - Chair of Law Society's Family Law Section on Expert Reference Group

Chair of Law Society's Family Law Section on Expert Reference Group

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The New Zealand Law Society welcomes the inclusion of Family Law Section Chair, Kirsty Swadling to the Expert Reference Group.

The group will assist the Independent Panel in examining the 2014 family justice reforms.

FLS chair, Kirsty Swadling is a barrister and mediator with over 30 years’ experience in litigation and dispute resolution over a wide range of legal issues, now specialising in Family Law.

Justice Minister, Andrew Little has announced the group of 11 people which includes experts in child psychology, family law, mediation, kaupapa Māori research and family violence, along with representatives from key organisations in the family justice sector.

Ms Swadling says it is a diverse group with a depth of experience.

“I’m looking forward to being involved. We have an opportunity to be influential by offering expertise that could result in some significant improvements to the 2014 family court changes,” Ms Swadling says.

Earlier this month the Justice Minister, Andrew Little announced the appointment of an Independent Panel whose members include former Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan as chair, Kaitaia family lawyer La-Verne King and Wellington family lawyer Chris Dellabarca.

“It’s pleasing to see two senior family lawyers on the panel and a Human Rights perspective will be helpful too,” Kirsty Swadling says.

Ms Swadling says the terms of reference for the review will enable a full reconsideration of the changes brought in by the 2014 reforms, which she applauds.

“The scope of the review appears to address all of the 2014 changes with regard to parenting and guardianship matters in the Care of Children Act which is fairly broad and I would anticipate it would include more than the particular issues identified, which is positive.

“I would envisage that the role of lawyer for child and lawyer to assist may also fall within the review and it will be good to be able to have a conversation about this given the many concerns that have been raised. Clearly the issue of parties being able to be represented by lawyers at all stages of proceedings will also be reviewed,” she says.

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