Procedure For Appointment Of Judges Confirmed

  • Doug Graham

The Chief Justice and the Attorney-General said today that a more transparent procedure for the appointment of Judges, setting out how potential candidates for office can express interest in appointment, who is consulted and by whom, has been confirmed.

The Attorney-General's Judicial Appointments Unit, attached to the Ministry of Justice, will support the new judicial appointments process. It will, from time to time, advertise for nominations or expressions of interest from those who wish to be considered for the Bench. Potential Judges must complete an Expression of Interest form. The Unit will maintain a confidential register of those names and the information held will be available only to those directly involved in the selection process.

Appointment to most judicial positions will be made by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Attorney-General. However, the Prime Minister will continue to be responsible for the appointment of the Chief Justice and the Minister of Maori Affairs will still recommend the appointments to the Maori Land Court and Maori Appellate Court.

The process of appointment to the Court of Appeal and the High Court will be carried out under the direction of the Solicitor General. The Secretary for Justice will oversee the process for appointments to the District, Family, Environment and Employment Courts.

While appointments will continue to be made on merit, there is a commitment to seeking diversity in the Judiciary. The list of criteria for appointment, setting out the required standards of character and legal ability, is available from the Judicial Appointments Unit.

When required, the Attorney-General will select a shortlist from the names sent forward from the Judicial Appointments Unit. Various groups and figures in the community may be consulted during the selection process in order to assess the merits of prospective candidates.

Cabinet is advised of the final recommendation before it is put to the Governor General. However, in the case of Community Magistrates, suitability for appointment is determined only after a period of training.