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Questioning Vulnerable People - Best Practice

Questioning Vulnerable People - Best Practice
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From the Chair

The conduct of trials involving vulnerable parties is under the spotlight. If recent publicly expressed concerns are not addressed, the potential for regulation is real.

Much research has been undertaken both in New Zealand and abroad and the consensus of opinion is that we can all learn valuable lessons about questioning vulnerable persons.

We are privileged in this forum to bring together a panel of our leading experts in this field with a view to arming all counsel who engage in trials involving vulnerable persons with both the understanding and tools to more effectively communicate with those persons.

This is the way of the future. And it’s FREE!


Participants in criminal trials are often vulnerable. This may be due to a range of personal and physical characteristics, as well as the events they are at court to give evidence about. The court experience itself is often very daunting. In sexual and family violence cases these factors are known to affect complainants and witnesses particularly strongly, and this may affect the quality of their evidence.

This forum, the first in a series of events, will provide background information and encourage informed debate on defendants’ fair trial rights balanced against sensitive needs of vulnerable complainants and witnesses.

The forum will seek to answer key questions:

  • What makes a person in a sexual or family violence case vulnerable?
  • Why should questioning be tailored to address vulnerability?
  • What is the ‘best practice’ approach to questioning for vulnerable people?

The forum will include:

  • Research, readings and resources to inform and improve your practice;
  • Context on the dynamics of sexual and family violence and how they affect complainants in the criminal justice system;
  • Explanation of the specific vulnerable characteristics that may be present in complainants and witnesses in sexual and family violence cases;
  • Practical tips and practice in forming better questions.

Learning objectives

By attending this forum you will gain:

  • Deeper understanding of the reasons complainants and other witnesses in sexual and family violence cases may be vulnerable.
  • Practice in developing better questions.
  • Confidence that your own practice accords with the requirements of the Evidence Act and is acceptable in a court environment that increasingly caters for the needs of vulnerable people.


This online forum will include a mixture of presentations, discussion and comment from all presenters. You will be able to send questions in advance.


There is a large amount of excellent research, practical websites and other relevant reading available online. We have collated the best available information, a range of online reading, resources and websites. Key readings are highlighted, and we recommend you spend at least two hours preparing for the forum.  View the resources here


  • Chair: Jonathan Eaton QC, Bridgeside Chambers, Christchurch
  • Guest Speaker: Her Honour Judge Sally Cahill QC President, Council of Her Majesty’s Circuit Judges, Southwark Crown Court, London, UK
  • Dr Kirsten Hanna, AUT, Auckland
  • Dr Emily Henderson, Henderson Reeves, Whangarei
  • Sally Kedge, Talking Trouble Aotearoa NZ, Auckland
  • Professor Elisabeth McDonald MNZM, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
  • Anne Stevens QC, Barrister, Dunedin


The online forum is on Thursday 25 June and will run from 8.45am - 4.30pm. There will be breaks for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Registrations close 3pm Wednesday 24 June.

Who should attend

All criminal practitioners involved in sexual and/or family violence cases (and those who might be in future).

Fee (incl GST)

Live Web Stream

  • This programme is offered free of charge - but you must still register.
  • Registrations close 3pm Wednesday 24 June.

Download PDF Brochure & registration form here.

Sponsored by 

MOJ Logo
Live Web Stream 25 June

Cancellation policy

NZLS CLE Ltd reserves the right to cancel or reschedule this programme if necessary.
freephone (within NZ)
0800 333 111


04 472 7837

04 463 2986
Level 4, 17-21 Whitmore Street
Wellington 6011

DX SP 20202
PO Box 5041
Wellington 6140
New Zealand