Powered by LawFuel – The New Zealand Law Society says it supports efforts to reduce retraumatisation for sexual violence complainants, but proposed law changes need to strike the right balance between ensuring complainants are treated fairly and upholding the fundamental right to a fair trial.
The Law Society presented its submission on the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill to Parliament’s Justice select committee today and recommended some changes to the bill about the way complainants and witnesses give evidence in sexual violence trials.
“The Law Society supports efforts to ease the burden on vulnerable complainants of giving evidence but is concerned aspects of the bill erode fair trial rights,” Law Society spokesperson Chris Macklin says.
“It is essential this law change ensures all participants are treated fairly, so that justice is not only done but seen to be done and fundamental fair trial rights are upheld”, Mr Macklin says.
“The bill substantially changes the way sexual violence complainants and witnesses give evidence, including by allowing greater use of pre-recorded evidence and cross-examination. It attempts to strike an appropriate balance on difficult issues, but some of the reforms will cause serious difficulties in practice,” Mr Macklin says.
The Law Society believes changes to the bill are needed to ensure that pre-recording evidence does not erode defendants’ right to a fair hearing of the criminal charges against them.
“The Law Society is particularly concerned the reforms will place extra strain on the criminal justice system where resources are already stretched thin. All criminal practitioners – defence lawyers and prosecutors – we consulted expressed grave concerns about delays in trial courts and processes, and system-wide improvement is required before these reforms can feasibly be implemented,” Mr Macklin says.
The Law Society broadly supports the bill’s changes to the way victim impact statements are presented to the court and has recommended some amendments to support this.
Latest News on LawFuel
- James Hardie Settle Weathertightness Case
- MBIE Say Remote Working Putting Organisations at risk of Ransomware
- Dame Patsy Reddy Made A Distinguished Fellow Of The Institute Of Directors
- New Zealand Supreme Court reviews principles of contract interpretation
- Palmerston North Prosecutor Joined By New Partners
- Eric Watson & Two Others Face Insider Trading Charges From SEC
- Marlborough Tourist Venue Owner Seeks Legal Advice Over Proposed Termination of Lease – “It’s gut wrenching. I am numb”, Says Owner
- MinterEllisonRuddWatts Promotions