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New Zealand Legal Information Institute - nzlii Discussion please

Poll: New Zealand Legal Information Institute (7 member(s) have cast votes)

Were I informed that my ACC judgement was going to be made available online on NZLII?

  1. YES (1 votes [14.29%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 14.29%

  2. NO (6 votes [85.71%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 85.71%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 11:21 PM

Please read the poll question as been myself, as the reader of this post, & not that of hukildaspida.

In light of the ACC Privacy breaches that keep surfacing, incorrect information that has been included in various decisions,
Trapski Report, Bronwyn Pullars 45 points, & Personal Safety concerns we would like readers of ACCforum and others to contribute constructive
feedback how New Zealand Legal Information Institute can be improved and made to account for there role in the omissions to adhere to
General Law & Privacy Law.

It is observed on other Legal Information Institute websites worldwide that they do not include identifying names & details of
the persons involved in Social Security & Injured Workers Compensation type schemes judgements - in other words de-identification has taken place -
privacy is respected.

New Zealand Legal Information Institute states it's "privacy policies are based on respect for international standards of information privacy protection".

We tend to disagree that they are acting within compliance of the Law.

We also are unable to find a physical address for service for this website, why isn't there one?

Not everyone has internet access to communicate by email or other ways.

How many of those whose names and cases are in the ACC decisions databases and have been informed their private health & other personal information, including addresses, wage details
- which is a confidential matter between employer & employee, medical professionals & their speciality one may have been placed under duress to attend etc
(if one doesn't one may be deemed non compliant), were ever going to be published either in hardcopy or online for all to access & read?

How many people are not even aware of the fact that their Private health information relating to their ACC claims is available online for all to read?

Why have the Office of the Privacy Commissioner , Accident Compensation Corporation and
Ministry of Justice not jumped up and down and done something about ensuring the basic legal rights to Privacy are adhered
to of those whose private health information is plastered all over the world wide web for all to see & read?

Quite frankly we are disguisted with some of the breaches of various Laws that have been allowed to continue been violated unabated and that no one
has been held to account for the disclosure of sensitive personal information that may otherwise never have been disclosed & is in breach of Court Rules.

It's overdue some were dismissed and sent to jail.

Privacy Policy

NZLII's privacy policies are based on respect for international standards of information privacy protection.
A. Information concerning usage of NZLII

A1. NZLII collects information which identifies, for each page accessed on NZLII, the network identity of the machine which has accessed it. NZLII retains this usage information for purposes of network analysis, usage analysis, and research into usage patterns for the purpose of improving NZLII services. Access to and use of this information is restricted to NZLII management and staff, and to researchers working on NZLII projects and subject to an agreement to adhere to this Privacy Policy.

A2. NZLII does not disclose or publish information which identifies individual machines,or potentially identifying sub-groupings of addresses, without consent. NZLII does publish aggregated information about usage patterns.

A3. NZLII reserves the right to gather more extensive information that stated above (i) about any attempted access to NZLII which raise security issues (and, where necessary, to make disclosures to relevent authorities); and (ii) for network analyses on an occasional basis.
B. Personal information contained in NZLII databases

B1. Some NZLII databases contain personal information, including the decisions of Courts and Tribunals, and the reports of Royal Commissions. NZLII publishes these databases with the consent of the public bodies concerned. It is the responsibility of the public bodies which provide these databases to NZLII to determine, subject to the requirements of the laws under which they operate, the appropriate balance between the privacy interests of individuals and the public interests in dissemination of the information. In particular, if personal data is to be anonymised before publication, this is done by the public body concerned. NZLII does not and can not censor part or all of the information provided by these public bodies for publication.

B2. NZLII does not consent to the contents of these databases being indexed by other web sites. NZLII attempts to prevent such indexing occurring by placing these database outside the permitted scope of web 'crawlers', 'robots' or 'spiders' that adhere to the voluntary Robot Exclusion Standard

NZLII also monitors whether any robots attempt to index these databases in disregard of this Standard, and takes steps to exclude any that do so from any access to NZLII.

B3. NZLII users should note that there are legal limitations on the use, publication and dissemination of some personal information contained in NZLII databases.

NZLII reserves the right to exclude access to its databases by users or sites that are in apparent breach of any such legal requirements.

If you have any comments or suggestions in relation to this policy, please send us some mail.

NZLII: Copyright Policy | Disclaimers | Privacy Policy | Feedback

#2 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:30 PM

Here is an example of how they write decisions & de-identify those involved in Ireland

Note that there are no names disclosed.



Social Welfare Appeals Office

You are here: Home >> Case Studies >> Social Insurance >> Insurability

Insurability Status Case 2

Question At Issue:

Whether the appellant’s spouse was employed under a contract of service, i.e. as an employee, in his business (a limited company).


The appellant started a business, in which his wife had been involved. Following their separation, a question arose as to her social insurance status. A Deciding Officer determined that a contract of service existed (that is, an employer / employee relationship) and that the employment was insurable at the Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI) Class A rate. In his appeal against that decision, the appellant argued that as his wife had served as a director in the company, she was not engaged under a contract of service and was, consequently, insurable at the PRSI Class S rate.

Oral Hearing:

The appellant attended alone. His wife, the ‘engaged person’, also attended at the request of the Appeals Officer.

The appellant submitted that his wife had commenced working with the company as a general operative initially, in what he described as a very loose arrangement designed to bring more money into the household. He reported that the proposed hours of work had not been adhered to but that a set wage was paid, irrespective of the level of attendance. He stated that there was no written contract between them, as he did not consider it to be necessary at the time; both his own and his wife’s earnings went into the household fund. He acknowledged that his wife had worked as a general operative, but argued that she had taken charge when he was absent. He stated that she had the use of a company credit card and argued that this was a director’s ‘perk’. The appellant asserted that, in spite of the fact that his wife no longer works as an operative in the business, she retains her position as director. He argued that while she may not have hired or fired anyone personally, she had always been consulted about staff recruitment. The Appeals Officer asked the appellant about the right to dismiss. He insisted that he could not answer the question, as he could not envisage any circumstances in which the question of dismissal would have arisen. The Appeals Officer asked whether his wife carried a risk of losing money in the business and the appellant replied that she did, in that a dividend could not be paid if the business did not grow from its current size. The appellant contended that his wife controlled her own work. The Appeals Officer pointed out to him that this was at odds with the information he had given in Form INS1 (used by the Department of Social and Family Affairs where a question as to social insurance status arises). He replied that he had misinterpreted the question and asserted that the plan had been to develop the small business into a larger family business with his wife, and their children, being fully involved.

The appellant’s wife argued that she had worked for at least twenty hours each week and that she had taken time off only with permission. She stated that she had always worked under instruction from those more familiar with the tasks she was performing. She asserted that, at the outset, she had wanted only to be a part-time worker and to have some money for herself. She contended that while she was working as a general operative, the appellant and the other director would meet to discuss the day-to-day running of the company; documents would be drawn up and she would be called off the factory floor to sign them. She submitted that this was the extent of her attendance at director’s meetings. She reported that when her marriage broke down, she became distressed and felt unable to work, and that she was effectively on sick leave. She reported that the appellant had initially paid maintenance (amount specified); after some time, she received her P45 form in the post. The appellant stated that the form was sent out only after his wife told him that she did not want to have anything further to do with him or with the running of the company. He stated that he had taken this as a resignation from the part-time work she had been doing. The Appeals Officer asked the appellant about the P45 form, given that the document relates to an employee leaving a company. He replied that his accountants had issued the document.

In support of his appeal, the appellant submitted documentary evidence, including credit card statements, copies of reports of directors’ meetings and a letter from his accountants, in which it was argued that the PRSI Class S rate was the correct one in this case. The Appeals Officer noted from the documentation on file that one of those accountants was a shareholder in the company. It emerged during the hearing that the company had four employees; when the engaged person ceased working there as an operative, she was not replaced and she is now claiming half the shares in the company in the context of her separation from the appellant.

Consideration of the Appeals Officer:

The Appeals Officer identified as the key issue the question as to whether there was a distinction between the engaged person’s role as an operative in the company and her role as director. She noted the appellant’s assertions that she was engaged as a director. However, she noted also his statement that his wife had taken on the role of operative to bring more money into the household fund. She considered that those two contentions were not consistent and that there appeared to have been two distinct roles. She accepted that use of the company credit card was a ‘perk’ that his wife had been given as a director but considered that it did not define her other relationship with the company. In the context of the marriage breakdown, the Appeals Officer considered that the appellant’s wife had taken a pro-active role in the company to secure her interests. She noted her assertion as to signing documents but not participating in directors’ meetings and the fact that she had not been paid director’s fees, nor benefited from any share-out of profits; her payment was in respect of her labour on the company premises.

In relation to the questions of control, direction and dismissal, the Appeals Officer was not convinced, in spite of his assertions, that the appellant did not have the right to dismiss his wife as an operative. She considered that it might be argued that the atmosphere, which had prompted her to leave, constituted constructive dismissal. The Appeals Officer was satisfied that the engaged person was required to follow instructions; it was a small company and she worked as part of the operational team. She noted that the appellant contended that his wife’s work as a general operative was an integral part of her role in the family business but considered that, whatever her involvement before the business got off the ground, her commencement in the role of operative was independent of her family position. The Appeals Officer concluded that the company engaged her as an operative in an employer/employee relationship and that a contract of service existed. Accordingly, she determined that her employment was insurable at the Class A rate.


Appeal disallowed.

End of Document

#3 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:40 PM

Whilst these cases below are Unemployment Cases in Ireland, Privacy, the right to be treated with respect & be de-identified has taken place. & need to take a leaf out of Ireland's book on how to improve the way they conduct themselves, & comply with various laws, in regards to the reporting of Civil & Court Matters.

This section provides an outline of some of the cases determined by Appeals Officers. The cases featured give an indication of the kind of questions which are the subject of appeal, as well as offering an insight into the consideration given to those questions by Appeals Officers. No personal information is included in order to ensure the anonymity of appellants.

In all cases, the Appeals Officer determines the appeal with reference to the evidence available, in the context of governing legislative provisions. Thus, the presentation of evidence in support of the contention being advanced is a key issue for all involved in the appeal process, whether they are the decision-makers, appellants or their representatives.

In some cases the Appeals Officer may determine an appeal without an oral hearing. Samples of cases are featured, providing an indication of the kind of circumstances in which an appeal might be dealt with in this way.

Case Studies
Grouped by Topic:





Social Insurance

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Other Cases


Unemployment Cases

Jobseekers Allowance Case 1:
Question at issue: Genuinely Seek Work

Jobseekers Allowance Case 2:
Question at issue: Genuinely Seek Work

Jobseekers Allowance Case 3:
Question at issue: Overpayment of Unemployment Assistance for days on which it is alleged that the appellant was working.

Jobseekers Allowance Means Case 1:
Question at issue: Failure to show that means do not exceed statutory limit.

Jobseekers Allowance Means Case 2:
Question at issue: Whether the appellant’s means were correctly assessed having been based on ‘benefit and privilege’ derived from his parent’s income.

Jobseekers Allowance (Habitual Residence) Case 1:
Question at issue: Whether the appellant may be deemed to be habitually resident in the State for purposes of his Unemployment Assistance claim.

Jobseekers Allowance (Habitual Residence) Case 2:
Question at issue: Whether the appellant may be deemed to be habitually resident in the State for purposes of his Unemployment Assistance claim.

Jobseekers Allowance (Habitual Residence) Case 3:
Question at issue: Whether the appellant may be deemed to be habitually resident in the State for purposes of his Unemployment Assistance claim.

Jobseekers Benefit Case 1:
Question at issue: Availability for work.

Jobseekers Benefit Case 2:
Question at issue: Nine-week disqualification

Jobseekers Benefit Case3:
Question at issue: Whether the rate of graduated Unemployment Benefit – determined with reference to specified limits – is correct.

Jobseekers Benefit Case 4:
Question at issue: Whether claims for jobseekers benefit from a number of appellants in the same circumstances should be disallowed on the grounds that they were not available for work.

Jobseekers Benefit Case 5:
Question at issue: whether the appellant, who is on a career break, may be deemed to be unemployed for purposes of her Jobseeker’s Benefit claim.

Jobseekers Benefit Case 6:
Question at issue: whether the appellant could be deemed to be available for full-time employment for purposes of her Jobseeker’s Benefit claim.

Jobseekers Benefit Case 7:
Question at issue: whether the appellant sustained a substantial loss of employment for purposes of her claim to Jobseeker’s Benefit.

#4 User is offline   Fighter for Justice 

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 06:22 AM

I agree that in many cases names, addresses and other sensitive information should be removed from judgments etc.

A while back I had my District Court Appeal and more recently Judge Barber's judgment (which misses out many relevant facts IMHO) was placed on the internet.

Contained in this Judgement are portions of my submissions, containing sensitive personal information. I represented myself at the District Court Hearing and Judge Barber did not ask me if I wanted/needed "name suppression".

Although I gave information as part of the Appeal process - I did not expect to have large portions of my submissions quoted (in my honest opinion in a misleading/incomplete way) as part of the Judgment. I feel my privacy has been totally and irrevocably breached......

Once the Judgment was on the internet - I felt there was nothing that could be done to rectify the situation.

#5 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 06:27 PM

Well said Ffj

It is also of serious concern that with children accessing the internet more freely these days that they may well find information they have for whatever
reason they did not know, or need to know yet, relating to family members cases in the Coroners Court.

Imagine if a child had not known, or been at an appropriate age to inform, what happened to Aunty or Uncle Jane or Joe & they discovered online
how they died in a gruesome car accident or violent death or committed suicide?

Quite frankly all those cases should be fully de-identified to protect family members from further harm & distress.

No one's children need to be exposed to that, or worse someone else finding it online & then subjecting the family members concerned to harassment
about how a family member died as unfortunately some get their kicks out of doing.

How many, if any, of those whom have had cases go through The Coroner's Courts have ever been fully informed their private information, including that
relating to one's health, would end up on the internet for all world-wide to read?

It's very short-sighted all around from those who should know & do better when it comes to the way information is "shared" & the consequences
that may result.

It's overdue some were sacked for failing to provide the service a reasonable person would expect of them in the Management/ CEO roles they are in.

The media are obliged to comply with The Law when reporting matters, so why aren't our Government Departments exercising the same consideration,
respect & fulfilling privacy rights to those involved?


#6 User is offline   greg 

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 06:58 PM

Not every time ACC use the court system , the case or the result is put in public view.

#7 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 08:22 PM

View Postgreg, on 01 November 2012 - 06:58 PM, said:

Not every time ACC use the court system , the case or the result is put in public view.

We are aware of that Greg- there are a number of cases not even put online, one can tell that from the numbering system of cases that are online
there are gaps, however there are Court Rules & other Laws that have not been complied with in those that are online.

The Privacy Act
has been in place for around 20years now, it's inexcusable to be identifyng people by their names, along with private health information
that may have only been shared in confidence between the person & their Dr, & other information that should not be publically disclosed.

Why go to your own Dr who has obligations to & complies with Laws if are going to publish that info regardless for all to read
world-wide if you are put into a situation, where Internal ACC Administrative Professional Standards have not been carried out, to take matters
to the Courts ?

As an e.g. Sensitive Claimants have been known to be identified by their initials & in those cases they often refer to the actual person's name
in the decision which is a breach of Court Rules.

Cases where claimants have been pushed to the edge & attempted to committ suicide have also had those private details published which in itself for
those whom were not informed that information was going to be published online is very, very wrong on &
& others part.

We very rarely, as a comparison, see the names of staff involved in these decisions, why not?
They are also involved & need to be made ACCountable.

The ACC judgements databases are very extensive & in comparsion with overseas databases on & the
databases are updated far more regularly & without a Duty of Care.

In our opinion de-identification must take place as WorkandIncome & others now do whose decisions are also published.


#8 User is offline   MINI 

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 08:21 AM

There are a couple of spare numbers after my most recent case, so I am wondering if they are being kept for them to put up the true facts of the case, and maybe a nnew outcome but that may be expecting too much.

You are right in that wrong information being inserted in a decision is disturbing and uncalled for as the right information is available. More later.

The ommission of the right information is an enormous disadvantage to us and can be upsetting when it is sensitive wrong information that is being used in its place.

It is difficult to know how this can be curtailed as 'justice has to be seen to be done', so there must be freedom to make caselaw available so long as it is accurate.

If one was to write to the Minister about this they would find that she would do nothing as it is still under appeal. But then again it may be worth, letting her and others know what is going on in reality. I will await the end of next week before deciding. A bit of grace for someones career maybe.???

At appeal and especially the High Court is where we will lose our anonimity unless we ask for name supression. It will be given if asked for, however the case will still be made public. And that is justice being seen to be done. Case law is too help all of us in the future.

Good subject.


#9 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 08:31 PM

Attention SSSS team :)

#10 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 09:52 PM

Plenty of name slips that the should be investigating in here as well, by those whom should know far better.

Police probe name slip

Last updated 05:00 24/11/2012

A Timaru person may become the first to be prosecuted under new laws around the breaching of court-imposed name suppression.

The alleged breach, on social media, comes with a possible fine of $25,000 or six months in prison.

Timaru police are investigating a complaint of a possible breach of suppression, allegedly leading to the identification of the man charged in connection with last week's alleged abduction and assault of a Timaru boy.

The 26-year-old entered no plea to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to the boy, when he appeared in Timaru District Court on Wednesday. He was remanded in custody without plea until December 5.

Judge Joanna Maze granted the man interim name suppression, but comments claiming to identify him and making threats against a man appeared on social media within hours of his court appearance.

Senior Sergeant Randall Tikitiki confirmed a complaint has been made to police alleging the court's suppression order has been breached. He would not comment on who had made the complaint.

"We are looking at what material is there and comparing that with the court order."

Asked whether police would also be investigating the threats made, Mr Tikitiki said that was possible, explaining it was not unusual for police to discover other offences during an inquiry.

He could not comment on whether police were looking at a single offender, or whether the inquiry would consider all those who had discussed the man on social media, as the investigation was still in its early stages.

It is believed to be the first time South Canterbury police have dealt with such a complaint.

New laws in March increased the maximum penalty for an individual from $1000 to $25,000, or, if the breach was knowingly or recklessly made, six months in prison.

University of Canterbury law professor Ursula Cheer said yesterday such prosecutions were rare. It was not clear whether the courts would view differently the person who first breached the suppression order to those who had repeated or followed the breach.

There are generally two types of suppression orders: automatic suppression which covers specific people, evidence and details in criminal cases and in specialised courts. The other form is ordered by the judge and can deal with the suppression of anything from names to individual facts, sections of evidence or even (at least temporarily) suppression of a whole case.

Most of the rules surrounding suppression have been long established and apply not only to the print and broadcast media but also to internet news sites and other internet applications including blogs and social media.


Courts make suppression orders for various reasons and a defendant may get name suppression where publication would: Cause extreme hardship to the person, or any person connected to them; Cast suspicion on another person causing them undue hardship; Cause undue hardship to a victim; Create a real risk of prejudice to a fair trial; Endanger the safety of any person; Prejudice the maintenance of the law; Prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand. Some suppression orders automatically apply, such as the name or identifying particulars of the victim of sexual offending. If suppression does not automatically apply, an application must be made, which can be opposed. Each application for suppression is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Judges receive a range of information as to why they should consider granting suppression. Decisions relating to suppression can also be appealed. The suppression order applies until the appeal is heard in the next highest court. It is illegal to circulate suppressed information and the judiciary can make a complaint to the police to bring charges against people who have breached the law. The penalty for an individual who knowingly or recklessly breaches an order is a maximum six months imprisonment, while all other breaches carry a maximum fine of $25,000.

- © Fairfax NZ News

#11 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:56 PM

Click on the links to read the full consultation papers.

Maybe this consultation paper from the UK should include the internet in general as there are some very serious breaches of suppression orders on the likes of the aforemention website containing Legal Decisions.

It's all too easy for predators to track people down, including those whom have been subjected to sexual offences, on the internet through negligent people in authority whom should know better.

Interim guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media

Initial assessment

Communications sent via social media are capable of amounting to criminal offences and prosecutors should make an initial assessment of the content of the communication and the course of conduct in question so as to distinguish between:
Communications which may constitute credible threats of violence to the person or damage to property.
Communications which specifically target an individual or individuals and which may constitute harassment or stalking within the meaning of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 or which may constitute other offences, such as blackmail.
Communications which may amount to a breach of a court order. This can include offences under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 or section 5 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992. All such cases should be immediately referred to the Attorney General and via the Principal Legal Advisor's team where necessary.
Communications which do not fall into any of the categories above and fall to be considered separately (see below): i.e. those which may be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false.
As a general approach, cases falling within paragraphs 11 (1), (2) or (3) should be prosecuted robustly where they satisfy the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. Whereas cases which fall within paragraph 11(4) will be subject to a high threshold, and in many cases a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest.
Having identified which of the categories set out in paragraph 11 the communication and the course of conduct in question falls into, prosecutors should follow the approach set out under the relevant heading below.

#12 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 05:35 PM

In light of the ongoing issue of harassment to selected clients & support persons etc of both online & offline via (Join this forum if you haven't already & read the Guest & Private Forums where the harassment has been "hidden")& laudafinem wordpress blog & other places may we suggest to Her Honour District Court Chief Judge Jan-Marie Doogue & others contemplating changes to & including more cases online that it may well cause already vulnerable persons further distress by doing so.

It is important to get the correct balance & may we strongly suggest that this matter is looked at very carefully to ensure the right balance is obtained.

We hope, should this topic be brought to, Her Honour District Court Chief Judge Jan-Marie Doogue, attention, that she takes a leaf out of some of the suggestions raised in this topic & elsewhere.

Thank you kindly

All change at the district court

Last updated 05:00 30/06/2013

'I might be living in a sad universe," said district court chief judge Jan-Marie Doogue late last month, as she and a handful of Christchurch court staff peered at a projector screen showing a red-and-green-coded spreadsheet of the rate at which courts around the country are completing hearings, "but I'm incredibly excited about this work."

True, running the rosters hardly seems the most thrilling aspect of New Zealand's justice system, but the way Doogue tells it, working out which judge should be sitting where and when is so "challenging" and "dynamic", it's almost as fun as a good trial.

"There are only a certain number of judges who are interested in judicial administration.

"It takes a funny fish I guess," said Doogue.

Doogue was in her mid 30s when she became a district court judge 20 years ago.

She's been the chief since September 2011, after the death of her predecessor Russell Johnson, and is now spearheading changes to the way district courts (which handle more than 95 per cent of criminal cases heard in New Zealand) operate.

She lives in Wellington, but on May 31 she was in Christchurch for the ceremonial final sitting of the temporary court at Nga Hau E Wha Marae.

Before that came a morning of back-to-back meetings, starting at the refurbished central city court buildings, where some rooms are still cordoned off with Cera warning signs as too unsafe to use.

At 10pm, she was in a meeting room, showing off her colourful and revolutionary spreadsheet (when she took the job, it came as "something of a surprise" to learn there was no single document where you could track judicial workload around the country, and she hired a business analyst to fix that).

She took a tour of the refurbished courts, had lunch with a bunch of her judges and was briefed on progress towards the eventual construction of a post-quake "justice precinct" in Christchurch.

She shook hands with lots of people who called her "ma'am", "your honour" or simply "judge", and had a lengthy, dense legal conversation with a woman from the Public Defence Service (that's the government agency that competes with private lawyers to provide legal-aid funded defence counsel).

As a funny fish, Doogue says she has "a natural inclination to want to improve systems", so when she took the job, she soon had a shopping list of changes.

High up was collection of accurate workload data, and remaking rosters so judges were sent to the places where the work needed doing.

She's big too on accountability and transparency, and caused a stir in March when she presented a conference paper saying there should be publicly available "performance measurement" of judicial performance.

She doesn't mean the individualised naming and shaming of specific judges and their decisions, as seen on the Sensible Sentencing Trust's much-derided Judging The Judges website, rather general statistical indicators of the judiciary as a whole.
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Soon there'll be an annual report where the public can see whether district courts are meeting their targets.

Doogue also wants to see many more court judgments available online, as well as an electronic register of name suppressions, to end the current shambles where media frequently struggle to find out what they may or may not report.

She has hired a "community engagement manager", who's been arranging things like letting the Sunday Star-Times shadow Doogue for a day for this article, and sending district court judges into schools to talk to students.

But a significant chunk of the changes Doogue is overseeing have been forced upon her. Tomorrow, the National Government's Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill comes into effect, the biggest change to the criminal justice system in 50 years.

It's a vast bill, covering everything from name suppression and the size of juries to the rules around police warrants, but it also has a lot to say about court processes, including a plan for many more trials to be heard by a judge alone rather than a jury.

The Government says the bill will free up thousands of court hours, and save tens of millions of dollars. Though she is at pains not to be directly critical, you get the feeling Doogue isn't so sure.

Yes, she says, there was consultation across the justice sector, but "there were certain changes made in the final debates which probably diluted some of what the policymakers wanted".

As a result, everyone from lawyers to judges to court staff are going to have to "think differently about how we implement it".

One issue, which occupied a good portion of Doogue's meeting with the PDS, was about the switch to judge-alone trials.

Jury trials may look slow and expensive, but at the end of the trial the jury goes out, returns with a verdict, and that's it.

Whereas if a judge is hearing the case alone, they are required to write a detailed account of the reasoning behind their verdict, a process that can easily take days for a complex case.

As Doogue told Christchurch court staff during that rostering meeting, "we are going to have to be very militant in ensuring that the judge is given sufficient time".

In a phone interview with the Star-Times a few days later, Doogue said: "I don't want you to get the impression that the judges think there is anything seriously flawed in the act.

"Where we are concerned from an organisational point of view is that what certain agencies think will happen as a result of the act, and on which they are placing considerable store, may not."

The problem for courts, says Doogue is that there will be pressures to accommodate more and more with less and less resource.

This is far more serious than making life easy for judges.

It's about ensuring that the "tenets of natural justice are maintained" - basic stuff like ensuring a defendant feels their case has been heard and they've fully participated, and that the judge has had time to think and then deliver a reasoned decision.

New Zealand has 148 district court judges, including the chief coroner and seven environment court judges, and a couple of judges currently seconded to Vanuatu and Samoa. The judges handle around 150,000 criminal cases a year - around 95 per cent of all cases.

Youth and family courts are divisions of the district court, as are specialist courts focusing on family violence and alcohol and drug-related offending. So too are the marae-based rangatahi courts, which are intended to get young Maori offenders back on track by increasing their engagement with Maori culture.

As Doogue points out, the district court "is where bail decisions happen; where applications for discharge without conviction occur . . . To see them as inferior courts, as just factories where people are churned in and out, is wrong".

The court at Christchurch's Nga Hau E Wha Marae wasn't a rangatahi court - it was just one of a number of unusual venues, including Riccarton Racecourse, where the city got on with the business of justice after the quake. Doogue recalls trials at Elmwood Tennis Club, where in the quiet bits you'd hear the plop of balls on rackets.

Yet Doogue says the association between marae and legal fraternity proved an exceptionally rewarding one.

In the afternoon, as the court held its final, ceremonial hearing, Doogue was one of a dozen black-gowned judges seated at the makeshift bench, looking out over a marae packed with lawyers, police, court staff and elders.

Doogue gave a long speech, the first half of it in pretty creditable Maori, all of it in a serene, well-modulated, and ever so slightly soporific tone.

In the car on the way to the airport, Doogue said she felt there was a renaissance under way in the relationship between Maori and the judiciary.

She's proud to have ruled that all court openings and closings are now in both languages, and that whenever a new judge is appointed there's a powhiri before the traditional swearing in. She has a tangata whenua adviser, Judge Heemi Taumaunu, on the chief justice advisory group.

"It might seem purely ceremonial, but it's not. You experienced that today. It's truly rehabilitative."

Behind the desk of Doogue's Wellington office is an artwork by a Ngati Porou artist - a large jigsaw containing the Maori flag and a bit of the Union Jack.

"I bought it because I wanted anyone who came into my office to understand very clearly that I see that I have a role as part of the modern judiciary to recognise tangata whenua and to recognise that in the district court's processes."

That's all very well, but the judiciary is still overwhelmingly white and middle class, isn't it?

After all, being a judge seems to run in families.

Doogue's father's cousin Jeremy Doogue is a high court judge, and so was her uncle Tony Doogue. She has an uncle and cousin who have judicial administration jobs. One of her children is studying law (but doesn't intend to practise).

Is the white judicial monoculture really going to change, when the practice of law sometimes resemble a guild?

There's less of that now than there used to be, says Doogue.

"If I look at the judges who've been appointed to our bench over the last few years, I can think of only one off the top of my head that comes from a dynastic legal family."

Doogue works six days a week, sometimes seven, and a three-week holiday planned for September will be the first substantial break she's taken in two years.

She still sits as a judge from time to time, but nowhere near as often as when she was one of the troops.

One of the toughest bits about being a judge is being the subject of "highly irrational" attacks in the media.

She doesn't mind "on-the-nose informed criticism and debate - that comes with the job", but she's less happy when there is "trenchant criticism of an individual judge when the facts are incorrect and there hasn't been any approach to ascertain the facts in the first place".

Worse still, though, is when the physical safety of judges and their families is threatened.

"I had something like that happen to me, long time ago now. I had young children and there was a suggestion that they might be at risk. We had to consider getting a bodyguard. At that point I thought, is any job worth your children's wellbeing?"

In the end the individual, who was involved in a bitter court case, transferred the focus of their threats to other professionals involved in the case.

Doogue says the most enduring pleasures of being a judge are the variety and the capacity you have at district court level of helping people change their lives. The thing that has surprised her most, though, has been seeing the glimmers of light in the darkness.

"Even in the direst, saddest and most awful set of circumstances that a case might present, you see how often a human being will be charitable.

"You see, far more often than I anticipated, the deep sense of charity: of victims for the offender; of family systems for an offender who has done wrong or family systems of a victim; of those who are prepared in educational or charitable organisations to assist either offender or victim.

"And you just see the indomitable spirit of good, really."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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Posted 10 September 2015 - 01:03 PM

Law via Internet (LvI) Conference 2015 Programme

Pre-programme announcement of presentations

As at 1 September 2015

At present the Conference has accepted 30 papers by authors from 14 countries: Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Japan, South Korea, Canada, China, Kenya, South Africa, the Netherlands, Vanuatu, Morocco, France and Taiwan. Ten themed sessions of the Conference are also now confirmed. More papers will be accepted, and more sessions added, before finalisation of the Programme.

The Early Bird rate has been extended to 14 September 2015 -

Donna Buckingham, Associate Professor, Otago Law School, New Zealand ‘Taking down New Zealand judgments: Searching for obscurity?’

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