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What are the problems with access to justice?

“Access to justice” is fundamental to upholding and promoting the rule of law.  It is the idea that all people should be able to access the courts in order to resolve their disputes. 

There are significant barriers to access to justice in New Zealand.  The NZBA has identified four access points as needing attention if access to justice is to improve:

  • Legal aid;
  • Pro bono initiatives;
  • Changes to court procedures; and
  • New models for barristers’ services and fees. 

Read the full report

What is the NZBA doing to ensure equity and diversity in the legal profession?  

The NZBA recognises that there are substantial disparities in the treatment of those at the bar and in the legal profession generally based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural background and/or disability.  NZBA has adopted a Diversity and Equality Policy.

NZBA also has a Diversity Committee whose objectives include the promotion of the independent Bar as a career choice for all, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural background and/or disability.  It seeks to identify and address barriers and assumptions that inhibit the progression of individuals into and within the profession.  Examples of such barriers include discrimination, non-equal treatment and socio-economic factors.

NZBA also seeks to improve and promote equality and diversity and an inclusive bar by research, advocacy and law reform:

  • Research: NZBA recently conducted a study into the gender ratio of counsel appearing in higher courts.  This study found substantial and persistent disparities between men and women appearing in higher courts.  Read more about the study.  
  • Advocacy: The NZBA helped to develop the joint NZLS/NZBA Gender Equitable Engagement and Instruction Policy.  It encourages all those who brief lawyers and barristers to sign up to the Policy.
  • Law reform:  The NZBA keeps an eye on opportunities to participate in law reform proposals which can improve equity and diversity in the legal profession.