Preface to the Second Edition

The first edition of the New Zealand Law Style Guide was published in late 2009. It would be going too far to say it was a runaway best seller, but the take-up has been nothing short of amazing. All the New Zealand law schools adopted it. So did all the New Zealand publishers of law reports and journals. Most courts (including the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal) and many tribunals follow it. Other entities, such as the Law Commission, have used it in their publications. Many barristers now follow it in their court submissions.

We always anticipated that a second edition would be required within a couple of years. Inevitably, with a project this size, a first edition would suffer from errors and inconsistencies. As well, users took the opportunity of contacting us with suggestions for guidance on matters not covered in the first edition. For instance, how does one cite transcripts? How does one cite letters patent? What about podcasts and eBooks? In particular, international lawyers sought more in guidance on the citation of international materials. We are grateful to those who made suggestions.

Earlier this year the core group responsible for the first edition (this time augmented by Sophie Klinger, a legal and policy adviser with the Law Commission) met to organise a process for completion of a second edition. We went through all the comments that had been received since publication of the first edition. Many of the suggestions were obviously correct and were immediately adopted. With respect to other matters, we decided to consult those who had made submissions first time round. We also invited from them further ideas for improvement. Obviously, we wanted the actual changes (as opposed to additions or clarifications) to be kept to a minimum. We were not prepared, for instance, to reopen debates on matters which had been heavily litigated first time round: for example, whether to pinpoint a paragraph number in a judgment using “at” or a comma! All citation decisions are ultimately arbitrary. A principal aim of a national guide is that one has to learn it only once. Most submitters recognised that principle and refrained from pursuing hobby-horses on which they had proved to be in a minority last time.

The core group was able to make firm decisions on many of the matters submitted. Others we decided to throw over to the same wider working group that saw the first edition to fruition. We sent a marked up draft to the wider group. We then had a meeting with those who could attend in Wellington in October. Final decisions were then made.

The major changes, nearly all of which are additions, are set out on page xix. A significant feature of the new edition is the inclusion of more than 200 new examples.

The writing of the first edition was very much a joint effort by Geoff McLay, Jonathan Orpin, and Christopher Murray. The lion’s share of the updating has been undertaken by Jonathan. Christopher was an able collaborator in the task. Geoff and Christopher both have new jobs since the first edition was published and this prevented them from having such an active role this time round. Sophie Klinger proved most adept at organisational matters. In particular, she collated submissions and prepared summaries of them, which greatly assisted efficient decision-making. I am most grateful to all four of them for their continuing interest in the guide; it is their excellent work which has made the guide the success it is.

All of us would like to thank those who made submissions and the wider consultation group for their input. I also thank the Court of Appeal clerks who, at the end of the process, thoroughly proof-checked the entire publication.

Three others deserve special mention for their assistance. First, Malcolm Birdling, Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, who provided invaluable assistance again this time with regard to the citation of European Union materials. Secondly, David Noble and his colleagues at the Parliamentary Counsel Office for their assistance with the citation of statutory materials. And thirdly, Kathy Scott Dowell, the current editor of the Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, for her assistance with the citation of international materials.

We have decided to retain the preface to the first edition so that those interested can read the account of how the guide first came into existence. We also think it important to keep on record those who assisted so mightily with the first edition.

It is the current view of the core group that a third edition ought not to be necessary before 2017.

Robert Chambers

Judge’s Chambers

Court of Appeal


12 November 2011

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