HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 446 : 11 February 2009

Calls for Alternate Dispute Resolution

At the Te Kaveinga Nui Conference last week, Atiu MP, Norman George has called for a Police Complaints commission to be established. He was unmoved when Ombudsman, Janet Maki informed him that such investigations are part of the function of her office.
The MP said he would still prefer to have an independent commission to investigate such complaints mentioning a number of complaints (unrelated to police matters) that the Ombudsman had not yet resolved successfully.
He said some of these complainants had approached him for legal assistance but their earnings were so little, that they could not afford the legal fees and called for legal aid to be made available to cover such cases (which are civil matters).
Maki said her office had a lot of responsibilities but not given enough resources to keep up with all the workload. Her own take is that government ought to introduce Alternate Dispute Resolution through mediation for conflict resolution without having to go to court which can create ‘bad blood’.
The MP said the Ombudsman should have been able to provide legal assistance for complainants after all there are 2 lawyers in her office.
Norman also complained of delays encountered by lawyers and their staff at the Justice Department and asked why Justice could not provide a dedicated officer to deal with lawyer’s requests.
Justice Secretary, Terry Hagan defended his department saying personnel levels had remained at 70 staff from 1995-96 despite increased demands for their services. He later added that the Registrar was the designated officer to deal with such matters.
Hagan said unfortunately our society has become ‘increasingly litigious’ and this has led to the need to schedule more High Court sittings (with judges) to deal with the number of cases.
The success of the police force in their investigations has also added pressure on the court. For instance, court sittings have gone from 4 to 9 per year to accommodate the Court of Appeal, High Court civil, criminal and land cases.
In fact, the demand is becoming such that there is a strong case for having a full time resident judge to take care of the workload. These statistics do not include court sittings presided over by the Justices of the Peace (JPs).

Herald Issue 439 11 February
- ‘I wanted to finish 3 years ago’ - Sam Pera Jnr?
- Government hangs Ruaau out to dry
- Flies reach epidemic level in Arorangi
- Economic Summits – Talking the Talk or Walking the Talk
- Parliament: Deregistration, Fuel farm and OIA amendment

Herald Issue 445 04 February
- The third political party: Why?
- Christmas message
- New Party will offer decisive leadership
- 2008 Kokonati Oscars of the year !
- Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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