Ministry admits false 'justice tax' claim

A High Court judge has worn flak for a court official’s misleading blunder.

The withholding of a judgment involving struck off Auckland lawyer Barry Hart’s bank battles was “a deviation from normal practice” and wrong, the Justice Ministry now admits.

A claim by an Auckland High Court official that Associate Judge David Abbott ordered media to pay a fee of $36.30 before releasing his judgment was wrong, ministry communications adviser Nathan Green told NBR ONLINE.

NBR ONLINE was earlier told the judge had ordered payment of the fee before his judgment could be publicly released.

After reading NBR ONLINE’s subsequent story condemning the rare “justice tax” imposed on the release of the judgment, Mr Green made immediate inquiries on Saturday of the Auckland High Court manager.

An apologetic Mr Green says NBR ONLINE is right: “This certainly isn’t normal practice.”

Mr Green says the judge did not direct a charge for the judgment and this is solely a matter for the High Court registry.

“The registry should have given a copy free of charge on this particular occasion.”

He is concerned Associate Judge Abbott has “unfairly worn the flak from this”.

The deviation from normal practice in this case is a registry rather than judicial matter, he says.

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Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was the only mistake our judges made?

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