Community Law Manual – New edition out now!

At nearly 1000 pages long, it’s a far cry from the ring-bound resource of its earliest iterations. But in the most critical way it hasn’t deviated at all. The Community Law Manual exists to make our justice system fairer and more accessible to all.

From its humble beginnings in the 1980s as a loose leaf resource in a ring-bound folder, the Community Law Manual has grown and transformed into a glossy-covered, 1000 page book setting out complex legal information in clear language. Accessed by hundreds of people every day, the Community Law Manual is comprehensive yet accessible, offering real-life examples to help everyday New Zealanders understand the practical application of the law.

We know from our statistics that the Manual is accessed online by over a million users every year and we also sell hundreds of hard copies. The demand for the Manual is evidence of its value, yet for all of that the Community Law Manual remains staunchly committed to its founding principles and is completely free online to everyone who needs it.

Funds generated from the sale of the hard-copy Manual are channelled straight back into production costs for the next year so that each year it can be updated, refreshed and improved. Here’s a glimpse of what’s new in the 2018/19 edition of the Manual.

What’s in this edition that wasn’t in the last one? 

New Disability rights chapter

This year, Community Law has collaborated with individuals and organisations from the Disabled and Deaf community to produce a new chapter on Disability rights. This includes all the topics in the old “Health and disability” chapter, but is much broader and more practical. It covers things like supported decision-making, discrimination in employment, a person’s right to use New Zealand Sign Language, reasonable accommodation, and access to special education services.

Domestic violence

The Domestic Violence chapter has been rewritten to make it more accessible and relevant to people experiencing DV. There’s also a new section on preparing to leave a relationship, a new popout guide to protection orders and new content added to the “other resources” section at the end of the chapter.

Refugees and Immigration

We’ve split up the Immigration and refugees chapter into two chapters: ‘Immigration’ and ‘Refugees’, and updated the entire chapter for changes to policy over the last year. We’ve also added new content about citizenship and community organisations refugee sponsorship schemes.

Begging, busking and sleeping rough

Our “Neighbourhood life” chapter has been refreshed and now includes some other aspects of living in the community, including laws around begging, busking and sleeping rough. Our “Driving and traffic” chapter also explains the laws about dodging bus and train fares (“fare evasion”).

Specific law changes

As we always do, we’ve updated the Community Law Manual to include the various specific law changes that happen every year – for example:

  • “Dealing with Work and Income” covers the Ardern government’s Families Package passed in December 2017, including the new Best Start and Winter Energy payments.
  • We’ve updated the “Employment conditions and protections” chapter to include the new parental leave entitlements, which increased from 18 to 22 weeks on 1 July 2018.
  • We’ve explained a change in ACC policy about whether you’re covered if you break a tooth on a small stone or other foreign object that’s gotten into your food (the bad news is you’re not covered anymore).

We’re also steadily including more examples from real cases to help show what the law can mean in real life and to give a better idea of what it’s like trying to enforce your rights. We talk about how courts and judges have been interpreting and applying the laws we’ve explained in the Manual. For example, in the “Wills” chapter (under “Making a will”), we’ve summarised some cases showing how judges have taken a liberal approach to deciding whether informal notes like emails and text messages can be a legally valid will in some situations. Online readers who want to delve into the details of these cases to find useful comparisons to their own situations can follow the case links we’ve included.

Every year the Community Law Manual evolves, changes and grows. With a combination of support from volunteers, funders and like-minded organisations, Community Law is able to respond to changes in the law, keeping pace with developments in society and technology in order to provide a legal resource that supports the most vulnerable in the community. At nearly 1000 pages long, it’s a far cry from the ring-bound resource of its earliest iterations. But in the most critical way it hasn’t deviated at all. The Community Law Manual exists to make our justice system fairer and more accessible to all.

By buying a copy of the Manual you are not only getting a hard copy to keep within arm’s reach, you’re also directly improving the chances that others in the community will be able to do the same. Together, we can continue to improve and refresh the Manual, next year and beyond. Order your Community Law Manual 2018–2019 now. Email: