Finlayson criticises Law Society but gets it wrong

Written By: - Date published: 7:39 am, August 28th, 2015 - 38 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, democratic participation, national, Politics, same old national - Tags:

John Key and Chris Finlayson

So the Law Society raises concerns at the prospect of trials relying on suppressed evidence which may result in the incarceration of Kiwis and the Attorney General then chooses to attack it.

I posted on this earlier.  Basically a late change to the Health and Safety Reform Bill introduced after submissions had been considered introduced the possibility of trials where the defendant does not get to see all of the evidence.

The New Zealand Law Society has expressed its concern at what has occurred.  It released this statement:

The New Zealand Law Society has expressed its significant concerns at the last-minute addition to the Health and Safety Reform Bill of provisions for a closed material procedure for court proceedings where national security is involved.

The Law Society has written to the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, saying the provisions should not have been inserted at this late stage of the legislative process.

The provisions will allow a person to be tried and convicted of a criminal offence without seeing all the information relied on by the Crown and without the right to be present (or to have their representative present) during all the proceedings. This is inconsistent with the fundamental right to a fair trial, the Law Society says.

“We recommend removal of the provisions from the Bill, to await the outcome of an inquiry the Law Commission is carrying out on National Security Information in Proceedings,” Law Society President Chris Moore says.

How did the Attorney General respond?  By insulting the Law Society.  He said this:

I saw some article in the Dominion Post that suggested I was some sort of crypto-fascist behind this particular secret court. But it was nothing of the sort.

“It was a [Supplementary Order Paper] that was introduced to deal with the circumstances in which you would deal with a hearing behind closed doors. Where did the [Law Society]  go wrong? Well, probably, what they did is that they didn’t really understand the legislative history and hadn’t picked up on the most recent SOP.”

He also released this more formal press statement where he petulantly claimed that the Law Society’s press release had been released seven days after SOP 108 has been introduced.  He should check his maths as it was actually released six days (25-19) after.

He was referring to SOP 108 which was introduced on August 19.  The letter from the Law Society was sent on August 21.  The failure to pick up on the further changes is in my view completely understandable.  The need to get committee agreement to the letter meant there was always going to be a lag between writing the letter and sending it.  And not anticipating that a late amendment will itself be subject to further significant changes is hardly a hanging offence.

The Law Society has chosen to release the letter publicly.  Finlayson should be afraid.  The Law Society is by far the strongest Trade Union in the country.  You insult the society at your peril.

And Finlayson’s criticism is, how do I say this, misplaced.  The Society’s criticism as to process is reinforced by what has happened here.  A bill has been introduced, a change is made AFTER submissions have been heard that affect human rights, and then further amendments to the amendments are introduced.  All without proper public scrutiny.  The bill was reported back on July 24, 2015 and the further SOP tabled on August 19, 2015.

And the main concern the Law Society has, that individuals may be tried and convicted on the basis of evidence they have not seen, remains.  The language of the SOP is very obtuse and it is not easy to immediately understand how it will be applied but it still allows for someone to be convicted on the basis of evidence that he or she has not seen.  And the explanatory note to the SOP describes the changes in this way:

[A]mendments to Schedule 2A, which contains provisions relating to classified security information used in proceedings in relation to the Health and Safety at Work Bill. The amendments limit the application of the schedule to proceedings in which all parties have access to the classified security information or the defendant seeks to produce or refer to classified security information“.

The provision is now more restrictive.  But there remains the power for appointment of a Special Advocate so clearly the provision anticipates a defendant not being aware of all evidence that may be led against them.

The Law Society’s concerns remain valid.  And Finlayson’s petulant criticism because the Law Society was not aware there were late changes to late changes to the bill is unwarranted.

38 comments on “Finlayson criticises Law Society but gets it wrong”

  1. vto 1

    Finlayson continues to show his self-appointment as a QC is entirely appropriate ………. he is like a energizer battery at it – just keeps on keeping on

    as has been pointed out since said self-appointment

    • dukeofurl 1.1

      The energizer bunny ?

      Are you sure you want to go there?

      As for the very late introduction of contentious amendments, and then quickly changing them…… seems to remind me of ‘confusion marketing’, the well known corporate technique of bamboozling its customers for gain.

  2. les 2

    at least he hasn’t started calling them ‘clowns’,a favourite term of his for people who dont see things his way.Clearly another minister,one of many who is really mindful of the P.M’s warnings about govt arrogance!

  3. Adrian 3

    I had dealings with Finlayson when he was a simple ( strong emphasis there ) lawyer, he was bloody hopeless and appeared to know SFA about the law even then.
    Not that tht seems to be much of an impediment to most lawyers.

    • dukeofurl 3.1

      Lawyers very rarely know the law. At best they can specialise in a small corner, stick to it and over time understand the precedents.
      However what most do well is understand the process

      • Matt707 3.1.1

        And this applies to the Law Society too judging by their past defense and protection of their own kind.

      • North 3.1.2

        Ummmh…….nought wrong with understanding the process (whatever the season).

        I know a criminal lawyer of ‘near-super’ age (totally legal aid) whose 39th come February 40th year of practice allows him vivid recall confirming the essential that the criminal justice system is as much about keeping the ‘rabble’ under control (for the benefit of the ‘non-rabble’), than it is about public safety or the broadest of ‘Justice’.

        He does though reckon that his role is to interpret the fulla/woman/kid to the court and to interpret the court to the fulla/woman/kid. Default on that (given there’s gonna be a ‘communication’ of a sort anyway)…… well there’s heaps more fullas/women/kids completely in the dark about their own lives. Never knowing the ‘whys’ and the ‘wherefores’. Imagine that. That is true and cruel powerlessness.

        Depending on the lawyer’s ‘pono’, coupled with sometimes (hopefully contollled) angry mouthiness in him/her, there is the potential for some good stuff to happen and it does. Doesn’t mean the lawyer’s gonna stroke him/herself ‘Christopher Finlayson QC – ruddy complexioned, Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey’ like.

        There’re lots of lawyers like that……I mean, not like the caraciturish ‘Chris’ (Chief Justice of 7 sovereign states by age fourteen AND Wanganui Collegiate AND Scots’ AND Christ’s AND Kings’ can you believe it ?)

        Who on legal aid rates are never gonna be the millionaires people satisfy themselves they are. Lower middle class at very best. Most flapping around some pegs lower saved only by partners (in life not law) who are earning moderate bucks as nurses or teachers or something.

        Cool thing is most of those sorts don’t entertain a wit of Key’s shit-arse “asprayshuns”. If anything they despise the Establishment pedalled lie of “Equality Under The Law”. They sally forth into the ‘system’ doing their best (which is often very, very up-there in technical terms), with good hearts.

        I know that’s not the conventional ‘wisdom’ (how cheaply I use that last word) but it’s truer than the facile mindset which delivers ‘feel acquittedly-righteous for purported slaying of rarely present dragons’. That incandescent nonsense which ‘sooths’ so many. Promulgated by six letters which when correctly ordered read “lawyer”. Can you imagine all the momentary upliftedness completely lost if they were configured to give ‘rawyel’ or ‘layrew’ or ‘ewlray’ ? Bugger ! Stick with “lawyer”. It’s you I’m talkin’ to TC above or below.

    • tc 3.2

      That’s where many lawyers who can’t practice law end up, politics where they get to hone their skills at plausible deniability.

      They also litter upper levels of SOE’s and govt departments like that incredibly dim bulb Peter Fenton who I last saw under another lawyer at MFAT, John Allen.

  4. Tanz 4

    What, secret courts? How scary is that? Star Chamber has arrived. This govt really really knows no bounds. Arrogance per say. The look on their faces says it all. What I don’t get is Key’s continued popularity, no matter what. Go figure.

    • save NZ 4.1

      People hate Key. Anyone who voices it, gets fired:)

    • Anno1701 4.2

      The Star Chamber wasn’t necessarily secret

      It was set up to prosecute influential/powerful/wealthy people that the ordinary courts may be scared/intimidated of convicting because of there high status

  5. North 5

    Expect in vain anything better of Finlayson…..the foulest caraciture of the snotty lawyer fellow……faux gravitas masking a risible reflex to clutch the pearls whenever his self-
    perceived excellence and the vaunted omnipresence of The Right is questioned. A dog of a person in other words.

    • whateva next? 5.1

      perfectly put, thankyou.

      • Anne 5.1.1

        Yes. It is rarely necessary to vent out spleen too much on this site because North does it so beautifully for us. 😎

        • North 5.1.1.1

          Anne…..it’s only your use of the emoticon of the smiley chap with the shades equips me to bat off the prospect of an insult there…….’venting the spleen’ is all rather savage and unnecessary according to my Presbyterianism. I do try to curb it.

          That said you do know I’m a keen student and devotee of The Master The Morrissey of Northcote Point ? If only like him I could work out that excellent ‘bold’.

          • Anne 5.1.1.1.1

            Far from an insult North. It’s a compliment. It is a pleasure to read someone who can so vividly and accurately express the character of a given person.

            Apologies if my intentions ended up appearing the opposite…

            I enjoy Morrissey too. A spot of exaggeration (now and then) is good for the soul – and great for a good story.

  6. Tautoko Mangō Mata 6

    It seems that the Supplementary Order Papers for the Health and Safety Reform Bill are not available on the Parliamentary website. I tried to get them yesterday and today.
    I am concerned after reading these tweets from Felix Geiringer. https://twitter.com/barristernz

    While on the topic of last minute inclusions in H&S legislation, has notice it includes changes to genetic modified organism regulation?

    Why does the Government need to broaden its powers, for instance, to declare GMO’s exempt from regulation as part of H&S reform?

    By SOP, the Govt has decided to completed replace the regulatory powers in HSNO, and not just those relating to hazardous substances.

    Seriously, can anyone explain why health and safety reform requires new powers to exempt genetically modified organisms from regulation?

    • save NZ 6.1

      @ Tautoko +1
      Scary stuff.

    • I think both the secret trials and the exemptions for GMO’s are in anticipation of this event;
      Little Shop of Horrors pic

    • jenny kirk 6.3

      Tautoko MM – this somehow connects to the Govt putting into its proposal for a National Environment Standard on Plantation Forestry a last-minute clause (6.4) which expecifically includes a provision permitting forest to use genetically modified tree stock – and over-rides local council restrictions on the release of GMOs.

      I agree – SaveNZ – this is really scarey.

      The Govt is determined to allow genetically modified tree stock into the forests throughout NZ – and not just pine forests, it could also occur with native trees and other plants.

  7. Charles 7

    When their malice is obstructed, they become stupid.

  8. North 8

    That’s a beauty Charles – “When their malice is obstructed…..”

  9. save NZ 9

    Ah, just idle chit chat. And not the first time urgent human rights and individual liberty has been breached. Law Society show some teeth!

    As the phrase goes “Government contempt too overwhelming to ignore” and now targeting the Law Society…

    Security Intelligence Service (SIS) Minister Chris Finlayson has apologised for dismissing Parliament’s select committee process as “chit chat”.
    Mr Finlayson says as soon as he said it he knew it was “uncharacteristically flippant”.
    “It’s certainly not chit chat and I apologise,” he says.
    The apology followed comments he made about public submissions on the controversial Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill.
    “The interview was at 10 past six and I’d just awoken from my slumbers,” says Mr Finlayson.
    The legislation would allow the SIS to conduct surveillance on private properties without a warrant for up to 48 hours.
    It would also allow the Minister of Internal Affairs to temporarily suspend or cancel passports as part of the Government’s response to stopping New Zealanders from joining radical militant groups like Islamic State.
    The rushing of the bill came with a warning from former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer.

    “Some of the provisions in the bill substantially interfere with, and reduce human rights and individual liberty,” he says.

  10. John 10

    This is the same Finlayson who to date has failed to investigate the solicitor general Heron for failing to investigate a crown solicitor who stated to a high court and a employment court that he had disclosed 150 documents to the defence and maintained this stance for the last 6 years, only to have the police admit in November 2014 that the documents have never existed. This is the same Finlayson who made many public statements about the crown prosecutor who failed to disclose on documents for the john Banks saga but is happily covering up for corrupt crown law.

  11. adam 11

    Wow, Finlayson reached for the Godwin card, before anyone had played it. Is he worried about something?

    • tc 11.1

      Nigel no mates has plenty to worry about as one of the heavy lifters in keys wrecking crew.

      His legacy will follow him around long after he’s lost his access to the beehive esepcially the way he craps all over his own profession.

  12. Tanz 12

    Has anyone noticed, in the background, the poster for Gaylene Preston’s debut feature film, Mr Wrong? (can see part of, only)..just a bit of useless info…)…

  13. Enough 13

    “Crypto” Fascist? There’s nothing hidden or secret about that descriptor when applied to Finlayson, whose irascibility makes even Groser’s intemperance pale.
    In long-gone schooldays, as part of a large, peripatetic family and in consequence a recurrent new-boy, self-preservation demanded I became adept at quickly assessing my new classmates characters. Physiognomy proved a useful tool in the process. The current National Cabinet cabal are proof positive of the effectiveness of that ancient art. But who is Bully, which one Creepy, Bessie, Bunter, Sneaky, Shifty, Sniveller, Teachers’ Pet or the Wee Fragile Fellow? Ad hominem? Yes. Ashamed? No.

  14. Gordon 14

    Free,hand of the market guided by a defunct lawyer and money trader.Bill of rights etc. Roll on magna Carta.

  15. Gordon 15

    Another example of arrogance from someone that should know better but commensurate with the sayings of a defunct lawyer and defunct money trader. Not exactly the top of their professions.

  16. Trevor Mills 16

    Another typical act of incompetent blatancy and denial along with blaming everyone else at being wrong. What more can we expect from a political pack of corrupt liars with no decorum or respect for themselves, let alone anyone else.
    Palma non sine pulvere.

  17. sirpat 17

    so the question gotta be……………..wtf is one to do about it???????

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    2 weeks ago