Criminal Bar Association sceptical about new law
Updated at 5:15 pm on 5 October 2011
The Criminal Bar Association says legislation passed by Parliament on Tuesday night may not make as much difference as the Government claims.
Justice Minister Simon Power says the Criminal Procedure Act will speed cases up and save millions of dollars. He described it as the biggest shake-up of criminal procedures in 50 years.
The changes include raising the threshold for a trial by jury to crimes carrying a penalty of two or more years in prison.
Association spokesperson Noel Sainsbury says however that very few crimes involving a lesser jail term go to jury trial anyway.
Mr Sainsbury also questions why the new law needs to stipulate that suppression will not be granted solely because a defendant is well-known. He says fame has never been an accepted reason in itself.
The Law Society says the way criminal lawyers work will change dramatically under the new law.
Law Society criminal law committee convenor Jonathan Krebs says it may be the biggest change seen in a century.
Among other things, he says, it introduces compulsory meetings and reports, reclassifies offences and changes the documents required for a number of applications.
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