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
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.
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.