Bar Association calls for calm following allegations that Family Court is “broken and dangerous”.
The New Zealand Bar Association, while deploring any form of violence and abuse against members of our society, has urged caution in respect of allegations of systematic bias levelled against the Family Court by the Backbone Collective. The President of the NZBA, Clive Elliott QC, notes that the Backbone Collective has only offered largely anecdotal evidence from ten women to support its claims. "If it has compelling evidence supporting its allegations, it should present it to Parliament. The opportunity to consider such evidence would be welcomed by those of our members involved in family law", said Mr Elliott.
Mr Elliott commented that family lawyers act at the ‘coalface', for individual women, men and children. They are an effective watchdog of family justice. They have no vested interest in a biased or discriminatory system nor in promoting the interests of any particular gender of client. In any case where a client has not been treated appropriately by the Family Court, family lawyers are there to advocate that justice be done, through appeal, judicial review or by lobbying for law change. "If systemic failures and biases exist in the Family Court, such as are suggested by the Backbone Collective, then family lawyers would lead the demand for change", said Mr Elliott.