Law Commission 30th Anniversary Symposium

Law Commission 30th Anniversary Symposium

On Thursday 3 November the Law Commission held a very successful Symposium at Parliament to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Law Commission. 

The Symposium was future-focussed, looking at the “The Law Reform Community in the 21st Century.” The intent was to promote law reform in the coming decades, with particular emphasis on the role of the Law Commission in leading the drive to ensure that our law meets the needs of New Zealanders in the twenty-first century. 

The President of the Law Commission, The Hon Douglas White QC, was impressed with the breadth and quality of the presentations noting that, “they will make an invaluable contribution to the development of the law by the Law Commission, our collective understanding of law reform generally and our processes.”

The Symposium was opened by the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, with over 200 people attending.  The Governor-General’s full speech can be found here.

We heard perspectives on law reform from the Minister of Justice and Minister Responsible for the Law Commission, Hon Amy Adams, as well Justice Dame Ellen France of the Supreme Court.

The Symposium then turned to consider the issue of Accessibility.  Fiona Leonard, Chief Parliamentary Counsel and Una Jagose QC, Solicitor-General, gave keynote addresses in the session. Dr Arie Rosen (Faculty of Law, University of Auckland), Fazleen Ismail (New Zealand Law Society) and Dr Bridgette Toy-Cronin (Otago University) provided a panel discussion.  Together, these speakers canvassed a range of issues in the context of accessibility, including legislation, the Courts’ role, the Law Commission’s role and the importance of citizens connecting with the legal system and the law generally. 

The next session was on te ao Māori, reflecting that the Law Commission has a statutory responsibility to take into account te ao Māori in its recommendations. As with the other sessions, this was intended to challenge the law reform community and the Law Commission in particular on how it undertakes the tasks of law reform.  Justice Joe Williams of the High Court and Associate Professor Claire Charters of the Faculty of Law, Auckland University, gave key note addresses. Mihiata Pirini (Crown Law), Natalie Coates (Associate, Kahui Legal) and Professor Mark Hickford (Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington) provided a panel discussion.

There was then a special session of emerging law reformers, including Dr Lisa Yarwood, Kate Salmond and Paul Comrie–Thomson, from the Law Commission, with Eve Bain and Pita Roycroft, law students from Victoria University, who looked into the future of consultation surrounding New Zealand law reform.

The full programme can be found in this Law Commission 30th Anniversary Symposium booklet.  All sessions were recorded as podcasts with the assistance of the New Zealand Law Foundation and these have been posted as YouTube videos below.

Photos of the Symposium are available in this Google Photos album


Mihi whakatau and Session One – Law reform: An overview 

Session Two – Law reform: Accessibility 

Session Three – Law reform: Te Ao Māori

Session Four – Law reform: Really looking forward