The rule of law has been seen in action in dramatic fashion of late. America has not broken down, has not seen democracy fail but rather the resilience of well tried and tested governing protocols and procedures has prevailed. Lawyers have been described in philosophy texts as the social workers of society. Part of their role is to ensure the rules of any community are made, authorised and enforced in a fair and impartial manner to all members of society. That was evident in America as it dealt with the storming of the seat of government.
In New Zealand we have an example of lawyers failing in that duty when a renegade community is allowed to function in full view of the wider New Zealand community in a manner that flouts the laws of the country. Members of that community have had contact with numerous lawyers but none of them it seems have taken time to look at the context and wider implications of those particular clients and why they are in the lawyers office. The community avoids the sanctions of the law because it never presents a full picture of itself to the rest of New Zealand but rather presents only portions of itself at a time. The lawyers we have in mind have in turn only focused on the single client issue in front of them and not the wider picture of that community that created the issue. Although trained to do so they have not looked beyond the façade presented to them but have rather focused on the minutiae and fees. That has come to an end with proceedings being issued against Gloriavale by a resolute former resident aided by a supportive trust.
Real Law has had a minor role in those proceedings. The action being taken requires of necessity a judicial examination of the whole of that community in its many aspects and forms. The community’s residents are living in a manner that would horrify George Orwell. Hopefully, that will soon be at an end. Those lawyers that have enabled it to exist for so long by either inaction or indifference will hopefully come to regret their failure to carry out their professional obligation as proscribed by statute – to uphold the rule of law and to facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand- and consequently being partly to blame for the misery that is Gloriavale.