Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Liquor law reforms loom - politics - national | Stuff.co.nz

Liquor law reforms loom - politics - national | Stuff.co.nz
And now we get some picture of how the Law commission Report will be implemented. Some of the ideas are frankly off the wall. The $250 "civil debt" fee for taking home drunks indicates how little the proposers know about civil debt collection. Debt collection in the District Court, perhaps a far better target for the Law Commission, is caught in a mire of Victorian law of complex and bureaucratic silliness. The concept of reforming this area is obviously not "sexy" enough for the Commission or the Rules Committee. Despite the new District Court Rules introduced last year, the debt collection end was not reformed. In fact, the new procedure would make it completely uneconomic to collect the "civil debt" proposed for taking home a drunk. Lets examine what would happen. The person is found in Courtney Place, where Sir Geoffrey Palmer was shocked by the hordes of drunken teenagers. The Police make a decision to take the drunk person home and hand them a bill for $250. The person says "but I wasn't drunk, and didn't want to be taken home, but the Police said they would arrest me if I didn't cooperate." And declines to pay the bill. The Police then seek to enforce the bill and issue a notice of claim in the District Court. The Disputes Tribunal will not have jurisdiction because the Police say this is a debt collection outside of that tribunal. Then the whole tedious process of filing a notice of response and providing the information capsule will commence. We have not even started on enforcement which is a further pain to go through. This costs will greatly exceed any benefit of getting the $250.

Why not an infringement like a traffic ticket? There is a well established system for enforcing infringements which more or less works. I just shake my head with dismay when I see silliness like this "civil debt" idea. It is all part of the theory that passing laws makes people behave better.

As I read more of the Report I will, I am sure, see some sense. It is not looking too good so far.

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