The New Zealand Centre for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Law will be officially launched this week at the Law School at the University of Auckland.
The centre, headed by retired District Court Judge, Dr David Harvey, was the realisation of discussions that have taken place over several years.
"The centre is a specialist hub," says Harvey, in a statement. "Information and communications technologies are becoming more and more a part of the everyday life of New Zealanders. The impact of these new technologies on the law and vice versa need to be examined."
The centre has three main programmes.
The first is the development of teaching programmes in the ICT field and a postgraduate paper is currently in development. There are plans to provide specialist modules for law practitioners to keep them up-to-date with new legal developments in the ICT field.
The second is in the field of research and the development of ICT policy based on a solid evidential foundation. An examination of the operation of the Harmful Digital Communications Act is already underway.
Other projects involving the use of technology to assist in access to law such as the development of online courts, access to legal resources for self-represented litigants and other forms of technology-based dispute resolution will be examined. As legislative reviews are announced, the centre will consider proposals for change.
"We look forward to assisting in the Law Commission's upcoming review of the Search and Surveillance Act, and the Privacy Act is coming up for review towards the end of the year. The impact of technology in these areas is considerable," notes Harvey.
The third is to design and develop an online electronic moot courtroom as a teaching facility for students, as an advocacy training centre, and as a place where lawyers, judges and court staff can familiarise themselves with new technologies for use in the Courtroom before "going live".
"This is a long term project," says Harvey, "but we have it as a goal which we hope, with generous funding that will need to be raised, it will become a reality.
"This year is a building year," he states. "Next year the plan is to bring some of the teaching objectives to fruition and to release the findings from research projects."
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