Updated: Jul 26, 2020
Leighton Associates is one year old! Although the website has only been up for 10.5 months we started out in July 2019 with an article that was rejected by the New Zealand Law Journal.
This is a specialist self-funded (ie: independent) media organisation backed by an enthusiasm for research and reporting, and as we’re researching a sector of the New Zealand legal profession has a penchant for suppression, much of our reporting requires some fairly advanced analysis and assessment skills.
Here’s our Code of Ethics: https://www.leightonassociates.co.nz/about , and a description by API of what journalism should be: https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/journalism-essentials/what-is-journalism/elements-journalism/
Speaking of risk assessment, a party to an employment dispute and their counsel would understand the importance of weighing up the risk and likely return of litigation, seeking mediation or even something as low level as lodging a complaint or commencing disciplinary action. The main inhibiting factor for individuals and small businesses may be cost, but parties to a dispute need to ensure that they act in good faith or risk being exposed for any significant breaches of the principles of natural justice (although minor breaches are inevitable).
ERA proceedings are publicised on the MBIE website and nzlii.org, and this database provides a significant portion of our research data. Occasionally mainstream media beat us to it and report on a dispute; they also get their information from the same source and edit it down. We edit, but also provide the technical basis for the determination and call it out if we believe it’s wrong.
The role of reporters is to bear witness, but we are aware of reports we have made that have most likely changed the course of a dispute resolution process. This happened in January where a dismissed public servant who had taken filed a Personal Grievance was counter-sued, along with her advocate, by that government employer for interviewing with a local newspaper. The employer’s Statement of Problem was emailed to the former employee while she was in labour! Of course we blogged on it including the local newspaper article; a screenshot of the blog was submitted as a memorandum to the ERA the afternoon before a teleconference in an attempt to incriminate the advocate, and the ERA Member balked and chucked it out almost spontaneously.
Also we suspect that as the only specialist employment law blogsite in New Zealand, lawyers may avoid, or advise their clients to avoid, any conduct that is likely to be called out on this website. But due to the inherent secrecy associated with the employment law industry we don’t expect to find out how much our work is impacting it.
Abuse of legal processes evolves from a combination of things – faulty or outdated legislation, groupthink, entrenched methodologies and oversuppression of information. These create dysfunction with the industry that takes a long time to remedy, so we expect Leighton Associates to be part of the employment law landscape for a while.