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EFC05

Preparing and Presenting Evidence in the Family Court

NZ $40.00
incl GST
Simon Jefferson Judge Robert Murfitt Maureen Southwick
Simon Jefferson
Shieff Angland
Auckland
His Honour Judge Murfitt
Family Court
New Plymouth
Maureen Southwick QC
Auckland

Published: 26 July, 2005
Pages: 88

Introduction

I welcome this timely seminar and I am grateful for the opportunity of providing a brief introduction to the material prepared by Judge Murfitt, Maureen Southwick QC and Simon Jefferson.

In recent times the Family Court has, quite properly, come under increasing scrutiny from a number of quarters. Some of its longstanding practices and procedures have been questioned. It seems to me that whilst there has been, and will remain, a strong emphasis on the resolution of family disputes outside the formal arena of the court itself, the role of the Family Court as the ultimate arbiter of otherwise insoluble disputes is clear.

Once a matter reaches the point where a judge is required to make a determination then the Family Court is, no more and no less, a court of law. The task of the court is to undertake a forensic exercise, with the skilled assistance of counsel, designed to lead to a decision determining the dispute before it. The tendering of evidence in the correct fashion, with a clear focus on such issues as relevance and admissibility, is a vital part of that forensic exercise. It is the place of the practitioner to facilitate and expedite the process, exercising professional care and skill. Neither the court nor the participants in the hearing are assisted by practices that are less than rigorous.

From time to time, the Family Court is criticised for its apparently casual procedures and permissive approach to accepting information which is sometimes less than helpful and often of only peripheral relevance. There is no reason why the Family Court should not adhere strictly to the essential role of all courts, namely the provision of a fair trial based on long established principles of the rule of law and of natural justice.

I trust that this seminar will serve to remind practitioners of their duties and responsibilities in this area and will prove to be a valuable resource for those who choose to practice in the Family Court.

Peter Boshier
PRINCIPAL FAMILY COURT JUDGE

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