Friday, 30 July 2010

Beehive - Amendment eases enduring power of attorney

Beehive - Amendment eases enduring power of attorney
Parliament, after the previous administration blindly accepted a silly recommendation from the officials-I am not sure which are responsible-has acted to tidy up what has cost a lot of old people extra unnecessary legal fees to get these important documents properly executed. There has been a suggestion from the Criminal Bar that the rate of change in criminal law has got out of control and that the law reformers need to sit down and have a cup of tea (in the late David Lange's words). Criminal law is not the only area where this is needed. Some of the law changes are passed without any real practical knowledge of how life really works, and the PPR Act change is a classical example. I will post shortly on the silly District Court Rules and how they have destroyed the District Court as an accessible venue for costs efficient litigation.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

FCC Says Millions Lack Access to Broadband — Daily News

FCC Says Millions Lack Access to Broadband — Daily News
I am posting this article for 2 reasons. The first is that GigaLaw is one of the oldest blogs I know, and has always kept well ahead of any new legal matters on tech issues, and is always worth checking out. The second reason is the issue of internet access. There is a growing movement based on the idea that access to the internet is a human right and I have some initial sympathy with this. What this is based on is the disparity in information access and social connectivity between those who have such access and those who do not. My thoughts on this will not reach the audience who do not and therefore cannot engage in the debate. Even the most hardened greenies seem to have web pages or Facebook groups. The other matter of concern is that the access is more often based on social and economic disparity. Those at the bottom of the heap, not just in New Zealand but also in 3rd world countries, do not have this access to information and contacts. Some greenies would observe that the infrastructure for internet creates a whole new problem-Google now has vast server farms which consume large amounts of electricity. The infrastructure in places like Haiti for example means that such connectivity is difficult. I have yet to see any paper from our Law Commission on the concept. While they are well established on the web and encourage debate on their new issues, this prime topic has not yet crossed their gaze in to the future.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Justice clicks into the digital age - National - NZ Herald News

Justice clicks into the digital age - National - NZ Herald News
I suppose I have to note this case, and include some hypertext of my own. The reporter correctly identifies a problem with what he calls internet rot for the linkages. It doesn't seem too long ago I was involved in considering the issue of preserving older volumes of statutes (that is, paper books) falling apart because of the use of acidic paper. See this paper. To day I was writing and modifying a document using Google Documents, which meant that it wasn't even hosted on my own computer and I could work on it from any location without having to use a USB or other storage device. I would guess it may be hosted in some vast server farm in the US. I wonder how we should store the digital judgments? Perhaps we need to consider a server farm in New Zealand which can also host the embedded links to protect against this problem. I am sure Judge Harvey has a view on this. But I would bet he hasn't completed a whole case electronically, if only because the courts system could not cope with this, so as having completed a construction adjudication entirely by email and documents, I am (for a brief time no doubt) one up on him.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Gas and energy

The recent decision in Todd Pohokura Limited v Shell Exploration Anor High Court Wellington CIV-2006-485-1600 delivered 13 July 2010 explains why our gas bills for domestic use are so high. There were no less than 6 counsel for the Plaintiff, 6 for the second defendant and 5 for the second defendant. The judgement is 173 pages long and the judge concludes with this comment
"A last word
[526] Any reader with the fortitude to have reached this point of an already overly long judgment will inevitably come to the view that it would be naïve in the extreme to urge that this judgment not be appealed, in light of the amounts at stake and the tensions in the relationship between the parties. Nonetheless, I take the unusual step of recording my view that the issues this judgment leaves the parties to grapple with ought to be resolved by negotiation between them, and not by further litigation. I venture that view not as a Judge apprehensive that the Court of Appeal might arrive
at a different view on any of the material issues. Rather, I do so as a New Zealander concerned that the resource vested in these parties by virtue of the permit they have from the Crown deserves to be managed without the significant inefficiency caused by the distraction of this dispute.
[527] There was general consensus among the expert economists that a GBA is, in all rational evaluations, inevitable. Professor Richardson agrees with that. Even on Todd‘s view of the dispute, flexibility of off-take has substantial value and after the very thorough airing all Todd‘s arguments have had, the prospects of securing any basis for disproportionate off-take without enforceable arrangements to redress the physical and/or financial consequences of doing so are surely negligible.
[528] This is a significant business relationship that needs a thorough breath of fresh air. That is possible in the context of renewed attempts to agree a GBA but seemingly impossible whilst the competing positions advanced in the litigation continue to be pursued."

The judge must have also had his gas bills balloon to help pay for this litigation as well. The Plaintiff lost but the judge says, with some sadness that they will appeal. The end result will not help anyone save the top end legal teams, who are no doubt booking their luxury holidays on the payment of fees and checking out their new cars. In the meantime many ordinary New Zealanders turn down the heat because the costs of the gas has risen well beyond the rate of inflation.

Employment Cases

I recently wrote about a decision of Judge Colgan, praising the humanity with which he approached a difficult employment problem. In another decision the same common sense and decency , and a realistic view of life outside the main cities pervades a judgement about the dismissal of the Courts Manager in New Plymouth. In Secretary for Justice v Dodd [2010] NZEMPC 84 he dismissed an appeal from the Employment Relations Authority, which confirmed her reinstatement, with damages. There are websites which are devoted to criticising judges and by blogging on the good ones I hope to balance those out. I like the decision because he recognises the intimate closeness in a provincial court system, and the difficulties which arise when you decide to look after family, perhaps at the risk of your employment. The respondent was acting to try to resolve a difficult family issue, and acted inappropriately in accessing court records, but understandably to help, among other matters, where bail details omitted from police records would have meant her nephew would have been jailed wrongly.