New Zealand Law Society - Law reform key submissions 2020-2021

Law reform key submissions 2020-2021

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa continues to have a very active law reform and advocacy work programme, making submissions to select committees on Bills and to government departments (including the Ministry of Justice, MBIE, Inland Revenue), the judiciary, the Rules Committee and the Law Commission.

Our law reform work is central to representing the profession and speaking out in the public interest on key issues such as access to justice, constitutional protections, the rule of law, operation of the justice system, and the quality of legislation. This work relies on the voluntary contributions of lawyers on 16 specialist committees and Family Law Section and Property Law Section panels, providing expert advice relating to law reform and advocacy, with overall co-ordination by the Law Reform Committee.

Significant topics covered in submissions over the period 2020 to date (mid-2021) included:

Our significant submissions

Criminal law, and human rights

  • sexual violence trial reforms (Sexual Violence Legislation Bill)
  • victims’ rights (Rights for Victims of Insane Offenders Bill)
  • Court-appointed Communications Assistance: Quality Framework
  • Police Detention Legal Assistance scheme: improvements
  • Objectionable publications and online harm (Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill)
  • ‘Revenge porn’ (Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill)
  • drug-driving regulation (Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill)
  • abortion services ‘safe areas’ (Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill)
  • Firearms Prohibition Orders (Arms (Firearms Prohibition Orders) Amendment Bill (No 2))
  • New Zealand Bill of Rights, mechanisms for the Executive and Parliament to respond to senior courts’ declarations of inconsistency (New Zealand Bill of Rights (Declarations of Inconsistency) Amendment Bill)
  • criminal jurisdiction improvements (reforms to address delays in criminal trials, etc)

Constitutional, public law and the rule of law

  • Parliament’s Standing Orders 2020 review
  • Supreme Court: publication of proceedings – change proposals
  • New Zealanders’ access to secondary legislation (regulations) (Secondary Legislation Bill)
  • terrorism suppression (Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill)
  • Legality of New Zealand’s COVID-19 restrictions (judicial review proceedings: NZLS intervenor submissions, in the public interest)
  • Legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic (COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill)
  • Inquiry into the efficacy of emergency COVID-19 legislation (select committee inquiry into the operation of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020)

Electoral law

  • enabling voter engagement (Electoral Amendment Bill)
  • prisoners’ voting (Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill)
  • MPs’ free speech and integrity of the electoral system (Electoral (Integrity Repeal) Amendment Bill)

Civil litigation, and commercial law

  • civil litigation reforms (access to justice) (Improving Access to Civil Justice: Rules Committee, initial consultation 2020)
  • costs for litigants-in-person and other litigants (Rules Committee consultation, 2020)
  • dispute resolution – guidance standards (Model Standards for the Dispute Resolution System)
  • class actions and litigation funding (Law Commission Issues Paper 2021)
  • Climate-related financial disclosure (Mfe-MBIE discussion paper, 2019)

Intellectual property law

  • intellectual property hearings, case management proposals
  • competition law – safe harbours for intellectual property rights (Commerce Amendment Bill)

Tax law

  • annual taxation legislation (Taxation (Annual Rates for 2020-21, Feasibility Expenditure, and Remedial Matters) Bill 2020)
  • concerns re the quality of tax legislation and consultation processes (Tax legislation drafting: independent review)
  • trusts annual return/disclosure requirements, urgent remedial amendments – additional exemption categories
  • tax avoidance

Employment law

  • protections for contractors (MBIE consultation 2020)
  • screen industry workers (Screen Industry Workers Bill)
  • protection for public interest disclosures (Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill)
  • bullying and harassment at work (MBIE consultation 2021)

Environmental law

  • highly productive land (draft NPS 2019)
  • urban development (draft NPS 2019, and Urban Development Bill 2020)
  • Crown pastoral land (Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill)

Immigration and refugee law

  • temporary migrant workers (Temporary migrant worker exploitation: MBIE review)
  • refugee protection claims: hearings process (Refugee Status Unit Practice Note & processes updated)
  • COVID-19, immigration system: extension of fast-tracked “mass” visa changes (Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill)

Youth justice

  • youth jurisdiction ‘demerit’ penalty proposals (Oranga Tamariki (Youth Justice Demerit Points) Amendment Bill)

These submissions, and others, can be accessed via the NZLS website –

Bills submissions (by year, and title)

Submissions on other reform proposals/consultations - search by topic: Access to Justice / legal aid, Civil, Commercial, Criminal, Rule of Law / Human Rights, etc.

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