Quality of professional work — Conditions of consent

Some months on from the conclusion of the successful road show around New Zealand on conditions of consent, I have been asking my colleagues whether they have noticed any improvement in the quality of draft conditions. That is, as to whether the high-quality teaching offered last year by members of the Court and senior practitioners might be bearing fruit.

Regrettably, the answer is a rather “glass half-empty” one, with a few exceptions.

To dwell first on the positive side, I was recently in conversation with a planning practitioner in Christchurch who told me that she keeps a folder of the papers from the roadshow on the corner of her desk, and regularly makes use of the material. I would hazard a guess that her drafting work will bear the hallmarks of that approach.

Unhappily, however, Judges and Commissioners report that they are often confronted with exceptionally poor draft conditions of consent, both as to content and the standard of drafting.

I would like to convey two thoughts to practitioners.

First, how about adopting the practice described to me by the Christchurch practitioner, and keeping a folder of papers from the roadshow to hand, and making regular use of it?

Secondly, how about using as precedents, conditions of consent issued by the Court in Final Decisions during say the last 2 years? It is our experience that many of these became significantly modified from the form in which they were first tendered to the Court, often through a constructive iterative process between the Bench, counsel and planning witnesses.

Both suggestions might apply particularly (but not exclusively) to conditions setting up management plan regimes, an area of some complexity needing great care.

I wonder whether you might consider disseminating this letter widely to your members, and hope they find it a practical follow-up to last year’s roadshow.

Yours sincerely

PE Judge LJ Newhook