Changes to improve courts come into effect

  • Mark Mitchell

Our justice system has been improved and is now easier for New Zealanders to use, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says.

“The Judicature Modernisation Bill is an important law reform that helps modernise our courts, with most of the changes coming into effect today,” Mr Mitchell says.

“Courts are a fundamental part of the justice system, and these changes will help provide a better service for witnesses, court staff, defendants, and our communities who use the courts.

“The changes focus on creating a more people-centred justice system by making it easier to understand and more efficient for people to use.”  

One of the most significant improvements is combining the District Courts throughout the country to form the New Zealand District Court.

“This will make it the largest court in Australasia, spanning across 58 court sites and hearing more than 200,000 cases a year. The District Court can now hear cases worth up to $350,000, up from $200,000,” Mr Mitchell says.

“The reform also includes steps to enable the digitisation of court processes. For example, defendants can now appear by audio-visual links for criminal procedural appearances.

“This means fewer defendants will be transported from secure facilities to appear in court, increasing efficiency and improving the safety of witnesses and court staff.”

Other changes include giving judges a wider range of options to respond to meritless civil proceedings, and enabling people to apply to have their fees waived in the Employment Court from later this year.

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