The New Zealand Law Society says its recent submission on proposed environmental legislation helped identify changes needed to make the legislation clearer and more consistent.
The Law Society’s submission on the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Amendment Bill resulted in the Bill being amended. The work also received good feedback from the Minister for the Environment, the Environment select committee and MPs during debates in the House.
“The Law Society’s diligent and careful analysis of it has meant that we've actually, I think, arrived at a better Bill,” said a member of the select committee, the Honorable Scott Simpson.
The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Amendment Bill introduces new provisions. These allow the Minister for the Environment to recover costs incurred in relation to a Board of Inquiry appointed under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 to decide marine consent applications.
The intention of the bill was to align board of inquiry cost recovery provisions with Environmental Protection Authority cost recovery provisions under the EEZ Act and the Resource Management Act.
However, the Law Society pointed to a lack of clarity in the bill, and a lack of alignment between the bill, the EEZ Act and the RMA in that the proposed new cost recovery provision differed from those in both the EEZ Act and the RMA.
The Law Society said that if the intention was to align these cost recovery processes, the bill should be amended to clarify that the existing cost recovery provisions apply.
That recommendation was accepted and the bill has been amended accordingly.
The Bill came into force as law on 11 July 2018.
The Law Society says the inclusion of its recommendation has created clearer legislation and greater alignment between the various cost recovery provisions, as was Parliament’s original intention.
“This positive outcome is due to the work of lawyers on Law Society committees who volunteer their considerable expertise and knowledge on a pro bono basis. Their unstinting work greatly assists the Law Society in fulfilling its statutory role of contributing to law reform, supporting the administration of justice and upholding the rule of law.”