The law and you: three valuable guides, Nicky Darlow

Adoption, Guide to Law and Practice
Robert Ludbrook
Government Printer, Wellington, 1990, $16.95

Human Rights
Robert Ludbrook
Government Printer, Wellington. 1990, $12.95

Your Small Business
John Pettigrew
Government Printer, Wellington, 1990, $12.95

Adoption has been likened to a legal conjuring trick. At the stroke of a judicial pen the birth parents vanish and at the same moment the adoptive parents take their place. This judicial tinkering with family relationships is unique. ‘Nowhere else in our law are the courts authorised to declare something to be what it demonstrably is not’, writes Robert Ludbrook. In his earlier books, A New Zealand Guide to Family Law, and How to Get the Best Value from your Lawyer, Robert Ludbrook showed an unusual talent for a lawyer, that of interpreting the law into plain English. In this latest book on Adoption he has again demonstrated this ability to explain the law clearly and concisely, but at the same time has allowed room for a few more emotive phrases and chatty background notes.

The ‘magic formula’ which removed the shame of an illegitimate child from unmarried parents and provided infertile couples with a solution to the embarrassment of infertility, was an alien concept to Maori tradition, where children were seen as members of the tribal community rather than part of a narrow nuclear family.

These issues are explored briefly but sensitively by Ludbrook, and should certainly be considered by those responsible for the moralistic mutterings of removing financial assistance from solo mothers under 18. When you consider that one in three New Zealanders will be part of the adoption triangle, this book deserves a much wider audience than the title first suggests.

In a fair society there would be no need for a book on Human Rights. However those of us hearing daily allegations of discrimination and victimisation know that fair societies exist only in politicians’ promises and accordingly would like to see Robert Ludbrook’s Human Rights displayed prominently in home, public, workplace and community libraries. It is nearly thirty years since the first official Human Rights Agency was set up here, but a large percentage of New Zealanders are only vaguely aware of the existence of the various Human Rights Agencies and the appropriate one to approach. Robert Ludbrook, in his usual straightforward style, explains their functions, their range and scope, and their ability to ensure a fair deal for ordinary citizens.

A walk down Lambton Quay or any other major shopping area reveals a transient population of retailers. ‘Opening Specials’ are rapidly replaced with ‘Closing Down Sale’. One wonders how many of these casualties are the result of the economic climate, or of poorly managed or inadvised get-rich-quick schemes. John Pettigrew’s contribution to The Law and You series takes a common sense approach to many of the situations in which small business owners may find themselves. He obviously takes the view that they should be putting more time into operating their businesses than reading, because his book is extremely brief – I am not really sure the Sale of Goods Act can be adequately covered in nine lines – but it is a good beginning. I would like to suggest if Your Small Business was compulsory reading along with the lease agreement then the survival rate of small businesses might be significantly higher.

 

Nicky Darlow is the Co-ordinator of the Newtown Citizens Advice Bureau, Wellington.

 

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Posted in Non-fiction, Politics & Law, Review and Sociology
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