LawFuel.com – Leading Queens Counsel Dr Jim Farmer believe that the Covid pandemic has created some major issues for the way justice is dispensed, including major problems with the huge backlog of jury trials that have built up during lockdowns and issues relating to the costs of achieving civil justice in the post-Covid world.
Writing in legal news site LawFuel, Dr Farmer, who is one of New Zealand’s most experienced and leading civil and commercial lawyers, has said that Covid will accelerate a trend that was already occurring prior to the lockdown with a reduction of in-court hearings, greater use of judicial conferencing and with attempts by the Rules Committee to expedite hearings and access to justice.
His concerns are whether current attempts by the RUles Committee to ‘streamline’ procedural reforms, including increasing the Disputes Tribunal jurisdiction and other changes which have put the spotlight upon an ‘over-zealous’ Rules Committee and the unintended consequences of trying to reduce the complexity of the rules.
Dr Farmer asked whether the augmentation of traditional oral hearings with written briefs and written submissions reduced litigation costs and improved access to Justice.
He points out that many senior lawyers do not think those objectives have been met.
His article quoted fellow senior QC Alan Galbraith who had noted that costs that cripple cases are now incurred in out-of-court processes with the use of written briefs being the worst offender.
Current proposed reforms such as the the use of interlocutory briefs that will be determined ‘on the papers’ and affidavits on disputed facts will simply exacerbate the problem.
“In considering these issues, the elephant in the room is civil legal aid and the unrepresented litigant. It has been pointed out before that savings by making legal aid more difficult simply end up in greater costs to the system of having to accommodate unrepresented litigants,” Dr Farmer writes.
“Rather gloomily then, the post-Covid litigation world that I see is one where the perennial problems and issues surrounding the cost of civil Justice will persist,” he says.
See the full article on the issues facing access to justice and related issue on the LawFuel law news site here.
LawFuel.com is one of the first law news websites on the Internet, published from New Zealand and reaching lawyers interested in legal issues, law firm management, marketing and legal tech developments.