Dated at Wellington this 15th day of December 2009.
This memorandum is not part of the determination, but is intended to indicate its general effect.
This determination, which is deemed to have come into force on 1 October 2009 and expires on 30 September 2010, sets the salaries and allowances for the Judges of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and District Court benches (including the salary and allowance of a District Court Judge who currently holds the judicial office of chief coroner), the Employment Court, and the Maori Land Court.
This determination is the first issued by the Remuneration Authority (the Authority) since the Remuneration Authority Amendment Act 2009 came into force on 8 December 2009.
In applying the statutory criteria for making the determination, the Authority took account of, among other things, the following matters:
there are no immediate pressing recruitment or retention issues with any of the benches. However, addressing such problems after the event can be difficult and may be ineffective, and the Authority recognises the need to minimise, where possible, the risk of their developing over time:
remuneration growth in many areas of the legal profession has levelled off, and in some instances remuneration may have fallen, in the past year or more. However, the remuneration of those in the areas of the legal profession that are the catchment for appointees to the High Court, in particular, remains well ahead of the remuneration of the High Court bench. The slowing of remuneration growth in the profession provides an opportunity for some modest closing of the remuneration gap:
the Authority was required to take into account new section 18A of the Remuneration Authority Act 1977, inserted by the Remuneration Authority Amendment Act 2009. This requires the Authority to take account of prevailing adverse economic conditions and allows the Authority to make a determination at a lower rate than it might have done had it not taken those conditions into account. The Authority regards this new section as both clarifying and reinforcing the criterion of fairness to the taxpayer that is an existing provision of the Act (section 18(1)(b)(ii)):
there is a long-standing and important constitutional convention that the remuneration of Judges should be free from, and be seen to be free from, any undue influence of the executive arm of government.
After weighing these factors, the Authority has made a small, across-the-board, increase in the salaries of the judicial officers specified in the determination. This results in increases of the order of 1.2% to 1.3%, the differences in increases between judicial officers being solely due to rounding.
No change has been made to the yearly principal allowance for general expenses.