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Citizens and the law

Universal rights and New Zealanders

Holding the balance
New Zealand's Bill of Rights
Delivering justice
Reforming the law
Checks and balances with Officers of Parliament
Investment watchdog
Fair financial dealing
Healing the past, building a future with Treaty Settlements
Who looks after your civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights 
Rights of the child from UN . 
The laws we live by and the Diversity Action Programme
Advocates for health and disability service users
Citizens' Advice Bureau



Reforming the law

In 1985, the Law Commission Act established an independent, government-funded advisory body to promote the systematic review, reform and development of the law of New Zealand.

Each year the Commission sets up a work programme in consultation with the Minister Responsible for the Law Commission (and after soundings have been taken from government ministries and entities). The work programme identifies the areas in which the Commission will undertake reviews of existing laws, structures and systems. The heart of its operation is the fundamental principle that the law should be both principled and accessible for all people of New Zealand.

In 2003, a substantial part of the Commission’s time and energy was engaged in a major review of the structure of Courts and Tribunals and their operation. This involved considerable dialogue and debate with the legal establishment and the wider community. Other work was being undertaken with regard to status hearings in criminal trials, a review of the Life Insurance Act, and powers of search and the operation of search warrants.

The Commission also assists government departments and Crown entities in reviews of the law and from time to time is called on to assist Parliamentary select committees.

The Commission comprises six Commissioners, some of whom are full-time and others who are part-time. The current President is former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a recent President was a High Court Judge, Bruce Robertson. Other members consisted of a District Court Judge, senior lawyers and a non-legal academic.

The Commissioners are supported by substantial research and support teams. Consultation and dialogue with interested parties is a hallmark of the Commission’s work. The Commission’s final reports are tabled in Parliament, and they usually contain recommendations for reform of the law.

Find out more!

To find out more, go to the Law Commission’s website.











Before Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer became President of the Law Commission in 2006, he influenced NZ law reform as a journalist, an academic and as a political leader. He strongly influenced the introduction of NZ's Bill of Rights, but, like so much law reform, the final shape was influenced by other points of view.


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