Justice is not served by court cuts

Last updated 11:53 12/12/2012

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The Ancient Chinese had a curse - ''May you live in interesting times''.

Interesting times were full of turmoil and conflict. Sadly, I see 2013 as being interesting times.

The Upper Hutt Court has been ''disestablished'' and no-one should be under any illusions that this has occurred for anything other than the purposes of cost cutting and is ideologically driven.

The Hutt Court staff will be significantly reduced and a lot of institutional knowledge will be lost.

The court lists of two cities will be merged, yet with fewer staff.

It has been explained that this feat will be accomplished by having a centralised phone system so that the court staff will not be pestered by public inquiries and will therefore be more productive, work will be sent to other centres and cases managed more efficiently using technology.

Those who attended the recent meetings with Minister Borrows and his staff will have noticed their ignorance of the day to day running of the Upper Hutt Court and the way in which they used the language of business in reference to the court. The administration of justice is many things, but a business is not one of them.

I fear 2013. I see judges, staff and all of those associated with the court operating under immense stress and I predict a significant systemic failure.

Yet even while I mourn the loss of our city's court, it is only part of a much larger picture which involves the gutting of the family court and the introduction of new and unproven technology into the justice system.

''E Courts'' are in our near future and a quiet revolution is being undertaken by Minister Borrows and his servants.

Unstable technology will inevitably lead to errors and breaches of privacy and those without access to technology will be at a disadvantage. I can only dread the outcome of this experiment in judicial management.

REG NEWELL, Upper Hutt

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- Upper Hutt Leader


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