From The President - 23 February 2024

Tēnā koutou katoa.

I am delighted to bring you this update and the announcement that the Attorney General, the Hon Judith Collins KC, has today confirmed that there will be a 2024 round for the appointment of Kings Counsel.  Please do read the Attorney-General’s announcement, which is in line with previous announcements in 2022 and earlier.  

You may recall that we did not have a 2023 appointment round, so this round is particularly welcome.   We look forward to working with the Solicitor-General and the New Zealand Law Society in coming months to progress the appointment process. There will be further information provided on the appointment process in coming weeks.

I also wanted to give a brief update on just a few matters that the Bar Association has been involved so far this year.  

Our Advocacy: You may have seen our recent advocacy in the media speaking out on the on-going serious incidents and risks for Courtroom security across the country NZ Bar association calls for improved safety for lawyers | RNZ and the Government signalled withdraw of legal aid funding for criminal sentencing reports. Concerns about withdrawal of funding for Sentencing Reports – NZBA Media Release - NZ Bar Association - Ngā Ahorangi Motuhake o te Ture.   

We will also be discussing these matters with the Minister for Justice, the Hon. Paul Goldsmith in our upcoming briefing meeting next week. This will be attended by myself and Paul David KC for the Bar Association.  We know that amongst the bar, legal academics, and the profession generally, there is a real concern that underfunding the courts and legal aid, will have profound adverse impacts on the operation of our justice system.  The Bar Association will certainly play its part in urging the Government to allocate realistic funding that does not risk the upheaval that the United Kingdom justice system is widely reported to be experiencing.

Our Conference: Planning is well under way for our 2024 Bar Conference with the Australian Bar, to be jointly hosted in Queenstown. Our keynote speakers are being finalised now and will be announced shortly.  You will not be disappointed.  So do save the dates 16-17 August for a winter holiday in Queenstown. 

Our Wellbeing: Wellbeing at the Bar is always on our agenda.  As a result, I am delighted to tell you about our revamped Family, Trusts and Estates Committee, chaired by Lynda Kearns KC.  This Committee is designed to offer direct support for barristers that work principally in the Family and higher courts, where we know there is significant pressure on clients and court systems and consequentially on the lawyers that work in this area.  At our last Bar Conference, we heard from some family barristers that more collegial support and advocacy is needed for this important work, done by many at the bar.   We are excited that this revamped committee will provide this.  The Ministry of Justice, Te Au Reka court digitisation project being planned as a pilot in the Family Court, is certainly an area where our committee can contribute its expertise.   

I look forward to seeing you over the next few months at events around the country.

Nāku iti nei, nā | Yours sincerely, 

Maria Dew KC

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17 Apr
Level 2, Specialist Courts and Tribunals Centre, Auckland
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Level 2, Specialist Courts and Tribunals Centre, Auckland
22 Apr
Level 2, Specialist Courts and Tribunals Centre, Auckland

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