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Earthquake legal issue research project

Lawyers practising in Christchurch during the earthquakes are urged to take part in potentially ground-breaking research which should benefit the entire profession.

Professors Jeremy Finn and Elizabeth Toomey of Canterbury University have secured $45,000 from the New Zealand Law Foundation for the first stage of an investigation into the legal issues that arise in the event of natural disasters.

 They are working with a group of colleagues from Canterbury, and elsewhere, to analyse these issues, with the final goal being a book outlining best practice guidelines for natural disasters.

The initial stage requires practitioners who experienced the Christchurch earthquakes to fill out a comprehensive survey. They want to hear both from lawyers who have remained in Christchurch and those who have relocated.

“We hope this will be a long term project but the first stage is collecting and collating data from the legal profession and from other organisations in Christchurch,” Professor Toomey says.

“We want to find out what legal problems have arisen as a result of both the September and February earthquakes.”

They hope to get a good response rate and, from that, to analyse the problems.

“We know what the well-advertised issues are but I am sure there are plenty of other problems out there of which we are unaware,” Professor Toomey says.

After they collate the survey data the researchers will personally interview interested respondents.

If the researchers can obtain further funding they hope to embark on a major research project which will take between three and five years.

However they intend to share the information as they go.

“When we have some data, we will run law practitioner workshops and publish articles that reach a wide audience. This will give us a feel for the ways things are going.”

The survey can be completed any time before 28 February 2012. To complete the survey go to: www.laws.canterbury.ac.nz/news/survey_14dec.shtml.The link will take you to a School of Law page that contains the survey.

This article was published in LawTalk 789, 17 February 2012, page 11.

Last updated on the 22nd February 2012