New Law Commission projects announced

  • Amy Adams

Justice Minister Amy Adams has asked the Law Commission to begin three new projects in 2016.

These are to review the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 and the Declaratory Judgments Act 1908.

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 deals with how property is divided when a marriage, civil union or defacto relationship ends. The review is designed to consider any issues that may have arisen since this Act was last reviewed in 2001.

“The division of property at the end of a relationship is a stressful and often complex process that affects many thousands of New Zealanders each year.  It is crucial that the law operates as effectively and as fairly as possible and the review is designed to ensure that is the case,” says Ms Adams.  

Ms Adams has also asked the Law Commission to work with the Ministry of Justice to begin the statutory review of the operation of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012.

“This joint review will consider how this law has operated since it was passed, and whether any changes are needed to respond to issues such as the impact of modern technology on the ability of Police and other authorities to prevent and investigate crime,” says Ms Adams. 

The Law Commission will also review the Declaratory Judgments Act 1908 which allows people to go to the High Court to clarify the meaning of a law, or the legality of a situation or another party’s actions.

“This is an area of the law that is long overdue for reform and modernisation,” says Ms Adams.

The next step for initiating the three projects is to confirm their respective terms of reference.
Ms Adams says the Law Commission is close to completing a number of its existing projects, including work on the law of contempt, measures to protect classified and security sensitive information in the course of criminal and civil proceedings, and a review of the law on extradition and mutual legal assistance.

“As part of the Government’s focus on addressing family violence, the Commission will also soon report on ways to improve the court experience of victims in sexual offence cases, and changes to the law of self-defence and the creation of a crime of non-fatal strangulation.”