More modern and effective courts and tribunals are a step closer

“The Courts Matters Bill and the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill, which passed their second reading in Parliament today, bring more modern and effective courts and tribunals a step closer”, Associate Minister for Courts Aupito William Sio says.

“Some of the legislation governing the courts and tribunals system is outdated and does not meet public needs and expectations.

“These two bills contain a large number of amendments that will improve people’s experiences with courts and tribunals. The bills will reduce the time it takes to resolve matters and will help people to feel safer in courts and tribunals.

“I am pleased that the Justice Select Committee has incorporated the Government’s proposal to address the unacceptable backlog of cases that has developed in recent years at the Human Rights Review Tribunal.  The change allows for the appointment of deputy chairpersons which will help to reduce the significant backlog and provide greater access to justice.

The amendments in the bills include:

  • increasing the financial threshold for the Disputes Tribunal from $15,000 to $30,000 so more disputes can be resolved in a cheap, simple and quick manner;
  • enabling the appointment of deputy chairpersons to the Human Rights Review Tribunal to help reduce the case backlog;
  • allowing the Legal Complaints Review Officer to dismiss unmeritorious claims and to decide more matters on the papers to help reduce the case backlog;
  • giving the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal the power to award compensation of up to $100,000 for financial losses in more cases;
  • modernising and aligning the powers and procedures of 21 tribunals the Ministry of Justice administers, making it easier for people to resolve issues;
  • extending the powers of Court Security Officers to deny entry, and to remove and detain troublemakers in court and tribunal buildings;
  • making it easier for people who can’t afford to pay their fines to set up arrangements to pay in affordable instalments;
  • allowing Audio Visual Link technology to be used more often in criminal proceedings; and
  • changing criminal and family court procedures to improve effectiveness and timeliness.

“I would like to thank the members of the Justice Select Committee for its thorough review of the two bills. The amendments the Committee has recommended, have increased the effectiveness and clarity of the bills.

“I also thank everyone who made submissions to the Committee and I look forward to completing the final stages of these bills during the next few months”, Aupito William Sio says.