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Consultation on revision programme 2018–2020

Page updated 29 January 2018: This consultation is now closed.

The Parliamentary Counsel Office is now consulting on the revision programme for the new Parliament. The submission period runs from 12 December to 26 January 2018.

What is this consultation about?
How to make a submission
Proposed revision programme for 2018–2020
About the revision process

What is this consultation about?

We are seeking public submissions on the draft revision programme on behalf of the Attorney-General. Submissions will help inform the final programme that will be presented to the House of Representatives in early 2018.

Revision is a process applied to New Zealand’s Acts to make them more accessible. This second programme aligns with the 2018–2020 parliamentary term.

We welcome your views about the Acts we have chosen for this programme. We are also interested in whether you think there are any other Acts that should be on the programme. If so, tell us why.

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How to make a submission

Please send your comments on the revision programme to the Parliamentary Counsel Office, marked for the attention of the Revision Programme Team:

Please supply your name and address (including a telephone number or email address) so that we can contact you if we need to clarify anything in your comments.

Please provide comments by 5pm on 26 January 2018.

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Proposed revision programme for 2018–2020

How Acts are selected

Acts are selected on the basis that they:

  • are outdated in language and drafting style
  • may be heavily amended or partly repealed
  • contain related areas of law that could be consolidated with other Acts into a single Act
  • are in frequent use or affect a significant sector of the public
  • will be more accessible to people if revised.

Draft programme

The draft programme below has been developed with the input of agencies for this consultation. Four of the Acts on the first revision programme (2015–2017) are included in this second programme.

Titles of revision Bills are provisional: the revision exercise itself will determine the suitable form, title, and location of the re-enacted law.

Revision Bills proposed to be started during 2018–2020Acts proposed for revisionReasons for revisionAdministering agency
Accident Compensation Revision Bill Accident Compensation Act 2001
  • heavily amended
  • contains repealed provisions
  • complex
  • will assist future substantive reform
  • enhance accessibility
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Bills of Exchange Revision Bill or revise and incorporate into other Act(s)
  • Bills of Exchange Act 1908
  • Cheques Act 1960
  • out of date language
  • enhance accessibility
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Civil Liability Legislation Revision Bill or revise and incorporate into other Act(s)
  • Law Reform Act 1936
  • Law Reform Act 1944
  • contain repealed provisions
  • few provisions left in force
  • enhance accessibility
Ministry of Justice
Education Revision Bill
  • Education Act 1964
  • Education Act 1989
  • 1964 Act largely repealed
  • 1989 Act frequently amended, contains some repealed provisions
  • revising and consolidating will improve access
Ministry of Education
Electoral Revision Bill Electoral Act 1993
  • heavily amended
  • contains repealed and expired provisions
  • modernise the law and justice framework
  • make electoral law clearer for voters
Ministry of Justice
Employment Law Revision Bill
  • Employment Relations Act 2000
  • Equal Pay Act 1972
  • Minimum Wage Act 1983
  • Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987
  • Shop Trading Hours Act 1990
  • Trade Unions Act 1908
  • Volunteers Employment Protection Act 1973
  • heavily amended
  • wide application to New Zealanders
  • improve accessibility
  • reduce costs
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Energy Revision Bill
  • Atomic Energy Act 1945
  • Electricity Act 1992
  • Energy Companies Act 1992
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000
  • Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989
  • Gas Act 1992
  • Petroleum Demand Restraint Act 1981
  • age
  • related subject matter
  • improve accessibility
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Land Valuation Proceedings Revision Bill Land Valuation Proceedings Act 1948
  • age
  • out of date language
  • number of repealed provisions and schedules
Ministry of Justice
Land Information New Zealand
Parliament Revision Bill
  • Clerk of the House of Representatives Act 1988
  • Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act 2013
  • Parliamentary Privilege Act 2014
  • Parliamentary Service Act 2000
  • foundational part of New Zealand’s constitutional framework
  • revision and consolidation will improve accessibility
Office of the Clerk
Parliamentary Service
Department of Internal Affairs
Ministry of Justice
Partnerships Revision Bill Partnership Act 1908
  • age
  • out of date language
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Summary Proceedings Revision Bill Summary Proceedings Act 1957
  • age
  • number of repealed provisions
  • provide a basis for a future substantive review of the infringement system
Ministry of Justice
Revisions that are expected to be enacted during 3-year period Partnerships Revision Bill, Land Valuation Proceedings Revision Bill, Civil Liability Legislation Revision Bill, Energy Revision Bill
Revisions on which work is expected to continue during 3-year period Other revision Bills

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About the revision process

Revision background

The Law Commission noted in 2008 that many Acts in New Zealand are difficult to find or to understand. A number of them are old and their language and drafting styles are out-dated, yet they may affect many New Zealanders. Some are heavily amended and contain a mix of old and new drafting styles, obsolete or repealed provisions, and complicated numbering. Rules on a related topic can be found scattered across several Acts, adding to the complexity of legislative regimes and compliance costs.

To address these issues, the Law Commission recommended the systematic revision of New Zealand legislation. Accordingly, the Legislation Act 2012 requires a three-yearly revision programme to make the law more accessible to people.

Revision: purpose and powers

Revising an Act means rewriting it in clearer, up-to-date language, and in a modern drafting style and structure, to make it more accessible, readable, and easier to understand. The process can change the layout and the wording of the legislation, but not its substantive legal effect.

Revision Bills can be used to:

  • combine or divide Acts or parts of Acts
  • change the Title
  • omit redundant and spent provisions
  • renumber and rearrange provisions
  • update to the current drafting style and format, and generally to better express the spirit and meaning of the law
  • include new purpose or overview provisions and examples, diagrams, and other devices to aid accessibility and readability
  • correct typographical, punctuation, and grammatical errors.

A revision Bill will not make substantive changes, because only minor changes to the effect of the law are allowed under section 31(2)(i) and (j) of the Legislation Act 2012.  Those permitted changes are to:

  • make minor amendments to clarify Parliament’s intent or reconcile inconsistencies
  • update certain monetary amounts for Consumers Price Index changes or provide for amounts to be set by Order in Council.

Revision programme and consultation

The Parliamentary Counsel Office is responsible for preparing the revision programme in consultation with the Government departments that administer the legislation.  The Attorney-General is required, under section 30 of the Legislation Act 2012, to invite public submissions on each new programme before seeking the Government’s approval and presenting the revision programme to Parliament.

Revision Bills and certification before introduction

The Chief Parliamentary Counsel will prepare the Bills on the programme.  Revision Bills must then be certified by a panel of lawyers comprising:

  • a retired High Court Judge (Hon John Priestley CNZM QC)
  • the President of the Law Commission (Hon Douglas White QC)
  • the Solicitor-General (Una Jagose QC)
  • the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Fiona Leonard).

The certifiers must be satisfied that:

  • the revision powers have been exercised appropriately
  • the revision Bill does not change the effect of the law except as allowed under section 31(2)(i) and (j) of the Legislation Act 2012.

They may require a Bill to be changed before they certify it.

After certification, the Bill and its certificate are provided to the Attorney-General, who introduces the Bill into Parliament.

The explanatory note of a revision Bill must include (as required by section 32 of the Legislation Act 2012) a statement setting out, in general terms, the inconsistencies, anomalies, discrepancies, and omissions that were identified when preparing the revision, and how they have been resolved in the Bill.

Parliamentary process for revision Bills

Parliamentary examination of revision Bills is streamlined because these Bills as introduced have no element of new policy in them, and will not make substantive changes to the law. The parliamentary process is set out in Standing Order 271 in the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives.

First revision Bill enacted

The first revision Bill to be enacted, now the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017, revised and consolidated 12 general contract and commercial Acts. There has been a lot of interest in this new Act, which is frequently visited on the New Zealand Legislation website. It has won the 2017 WriteMark Best Plain English Legal Document award. The judging panel said: "The revised Act is a great step forward in New Zealand for plain English legislation. And the intended audience has a much clearer picture of contractual law in New Zealand."

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