New Zealand Law Society - Lawyers urged to be patient through court industrial action

Lawyers urged to be patient through court industrial action

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The New Zealand Law Society is asking lawyers to be patient during industrial action by Ministry of Justice PSA members.

In a communication to the Presidents of the Law Society's 13 branches, it says the industrial action is affecting different parts of the country in different ways.

"Some branches have indicated that it is having an almost negligible impact in their area, but in some other areas it has been incredibly disruptive and difficult."

The Law Society says that on three occasions so far the industrial action has extended to "lightning strikes", which occur on only 30 minutes notice and can extend from one to two hours.

"The Ministry of Justice is acutely aware of the impact the 'lightning strikes' are having on court users and have asked us to pass on that they have raised very strong with the PSA that 30 minutes' notice is not sufficient," the Law Society says.

"At present the lightning strikes are role-specific (eg, court security officers) and location-specific. What this may mean is that matters are adjourned and courts closed on 30 minutes notice. In some areas alternative courses of action, such as coverage by staff who are not engaged in industrial action or outside resources are able to be utilised and courts are able to remain open, but that is not always possible.

"We know this is incredibly difficult and frustrating for some practitioners and very upsetting for their clients, victims and other court users.

"While we hope that there is a mutually satisfactory resolution to matters soon, it may be bumpy for a while yet and we are likely to continue to see a disruption in court services until a resolution is reached. Unfortunately there is little we can do but try to be patient while this is worked out," the Law Society says.