Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Attorney-General says Law Society got it wrong over 'secret courts'

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has rubbished claims from the Law Society. Photo / Andrew Bonallack
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has rubbished claims from the Law Society. Photo / Andrew Bonallack

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has rubbished claims from the Law Society that health and safety legislation would expand the use of so-called "secret courts".

In an earlier press release, the Law Society said the last minute changes to contentious health and safety reforms would allow a person to be tried and convicted of a criminal offence without seeing all the evidence against them, and without the right to be present during all proceedings.

It has written to Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse to protest that the provisions should not have been inserted at such a late stage.

Today, Mr Finlayson said the Law Society's claims were wrong.

"The Law Society appears to have been commenting on an old version of the bill and to have ignored, or simply missed, [a supplementary order paper].

"The Law Society plays an important role in contributing to the quality of legislation passed by Parliament. But in order for Parliament to benefit from that contribution, accuracy really is paramount, especially when the Law Society chooses to comment on legislation via press release."

Asked why the provisions were initially in the legislation, Mr Finlayson said that question needed to be put to Mr Woodhouse.

"In the overall scheme of things it is a very small corner of the legislation - the way in which you deal with the issue of classified information. And it has to be dealt with, whether you have a hearing in the general civil courts, or a prosecution under the Health and Safety regulation...there will be occasions where these sorts of issues arise."

- NZ Herald

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