The Evolving Accessibility of New Zealand Law: Redesigning Legislation for Understanding and Empowerment
70 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2018
Date Written: June 20, 2018
For decades, users of the New Zealand statute book have struggled with its complexity; legislation is not only difficult to find, but once found, it is difficult to understand and use. While the standard is certainly improving, ‘ordinary’ readers are still bewildered when attempting to understand legal rights and obligations, and professional users (whether legally trained or not) are frustrated by the time taken to ascertain required conduct. Consequently, New Zealand legislation can be disempowering, has significant productivity costs, and undermines fundamental principles of the rule of law. In a country led by one of the most open and transparent governments in the world, at the forefront of delivering user-centred digital services, this is not good enough.
This paper examines the evolution of the statute book, with a focus on accessibility. It suggests this evolution was informed by a legislative paradigm rooted in tradition, with constrained aspirations of how legislation could be experienced by citizens. It then proposes a new legislative paradigm – designed around the users of legislation, to support and empower every New Zealander to understand the law. Developments consistent with this paradigm are explored, and constraints in the law reform process are assessed, before recommendations are made for ‘first steps’ to set the stage for legislative transformation.
Keywords: Legislation, Statute Book, Law Reform, Accessibility, Human-Centred Design, Legal Design
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation