New legislation website a hit with lawyers

Better search facilities are among the improvements to website

Redesign of the New Zealand legislation website is getting positive reactions from lawyers and other interested parties.

The makeover of the site, under the aegis of the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO), includes improved search facilities, more help for the user and a clearer history of amendments to legislation. A “quick search” will find a word in the title or content of a piece of legislation, while “advanced search” allows a list of terms to be specified and search conducted for any of the words, all of them or a specific phrase.

Like the old site the new provides “browse” facilities, as well as direct search. The “browse” list of all Acts or Bills whose titles begin with a certain letter is now paginated, rather than provided as one long scrolled list, as on the old site; some may find this less convenient as it’s hard to guess which page the link to the target legislation will be on.

An Act or Bill can now be viewed in its entirety as an HTML document; previously the choice was between viewing html hypetexted by sections and clauses or downloading the whole text as a PDF. Those options are still provided.

“Seeing the whole Act at once and searching for word/phrase with browser is very helpful,” says Auckland intellectual-property lawyer Kevin Glover on Twitter. Rick Shera, an IP lawyer specialising in ICT, says it’s “great that NZ [government is] making our legislation more accessible to everyone and not just we gatekeepers.”

Links to “deemed regulations” are being newly loaded onto the site and will be available within “weeks”, say notes on the site itself. Deemed regulations, it explains “are made primarily by ministers, officials, or organisations, rather than the Executive Council on the recommendation of Cabinet. Examples include most land transport rules, civil aviation rules, and a wide variety of other rules, codes, and other legislative instruments.”

The PCO points out, however, that it does not have oversight of deemed regulations and cannot guarantee the complete accuracy of the text.

The site is still at the same address: www.legislation.govt.nz

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