Environment Court to close?

Policy Parrot says:

Recently this Parrot has been amused with the idle chit chat coming from members of the wig and gown fraternity where it concerns the future of the Environment Court. Apparently some from the Resource Management Sect are not happy that Chris Finlayson is casually discussing the possibility of getting rid of the Environment Court and merging it with the District Court.

Nobody knows if this is a credible discussion or merely a man thinking of ideas aloud but it has caused a flutter and some are filing their teeth to have a little fight in support of the Court. Cherish the loyalty.

The Environment Court has in the distant past a dim legacy of delay. But that was a very long time ago and in the last 5 years or so Acting Chief Judge Laurie Newhook has done much to eliminate the issues of delay so that it can be fairly said that the Court is now swift and responsive.

It is certainly clear to those who frequent the hallowed halls of justice that the process is as quick as it can be given the lack of expedient conduct by parties such as Councils and appellants who are notorious for dragging the chain whilst blaming everyone else including the Court for said delays.

This Parrot has heard that certain corporate heavy weights have been whinging to the Government about the Court process and scathing their distaste for RMA lawyers. What is particularly unusual is that these whinging suits happen to be on a list of corporates who rarely venture into the Environment Court system and for whom unfettered rights to do whatever they want is impinged by a Court process. They can?t stand the thought that a democratic nation might impose a system that upholds natural justice. ??

Diddums this Parrot says. Go cry a river of tears to someone else like your mum.

The idea of change within the Court system isn?t novel. It is the prerogative of Governments to make changes and add a fresh approach when the process and systems of society become as stale as old bread. But where it concerns the Environment Court the issue is not the Court itself but issues with the law, frivolous and vexatious appellants and a lack of resources.

A tidy up of the RMA is underway, and hopefully it will include some changes to speed up the process such as the introduction of substantive testing of the merits of an appeal upon lodgement of an appeal allowing judges to kick to touch the loonies and idiots who are using the process to buy time rather than appeal for legitimate purposes. Streamlining and allowing the appropriate checks and balances at the beginning of the process is not only sensible but would reduce the chances of long drawn Court proceedings with mediation and hearings strung out over months and years.

But more over the single biggest response the Government could do would be to give the Court the appropriate level of resources to ensure that it can perform it?s functions with?expediency. Not to whip them like a naughty school boy for being late after making them walk 12km to school. Give the buggers a chance to do the job by giving them the resources so that they can do it. Don?t string them out on a threadbare and then whinge about performance.

When adequately resourced and with appropriate amendments to law the Court will move very swiftly. Like a hot knife through butter.

Secondly the idea of dissembling the Environment Court is dangerous and stupid.

The Environment Court is a specialised court. Thank God we have judges making decisions with the due experience and relevant knowledge rather than a judge from the District Court circuit who also has to deal with dickheads on P. Quality judgements would go out the door and the process would take longer.

Not even close to being a smart idea.

Here is hoping therefore the rumours are just rumours and if Chris Finlayson is intending on change he smartly recognises the value that the Environment Court brings to New Zealand. And if he legitimately seeks to do the right thing that he would look to better equip the Court with the functions and resources required in this modern time.

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