Substantial drop in age of court cases

  • Amy Adams
Justice Courts

New Zealanders are seeing huge improvements in the time it takes to access justice services with a big reduction in the average age of District Court criminal cases, Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams announced.

As at the end of December 2014, there was a nationwide reduction of 21.5 per cent in the average age of criminal cases since April 2013 – with an average time of 99 days for active cases.

“Going through the courts can be a stressful experience for victims, witnesses and their families and delays can be particularly frustrating and distressing. That’s why the Government is focussed on reducing needless delays in the courts,” says Ms Adams.

“We’re making some excellent headway across New Zealand as we work towards keeping everyone’s time in the court system to a minimum.

“It’s pleasing to see that crime has dropped by 17 per cent nationwide since June 2011. This drop has certainly assisted in reducing the time criminal cases take.”

Some of the biggest improvements were made in Auckland and Northland. District Courts in Northland achieved a 32.7 per cent reduction in the average age of criminal cases to 82 days, with the average age of jury trials reduced by 26.8 percent to 290 days.

Auckland, Waitakere and North Shore District Courts achieved a 29.1 per cent reduction in the average age of criminal cases to 122 days, while the average age of jury trials dropped by 17.4 percent to 381 days.  In South Auckland, the average age of all criminal cases reduced by 20.6 percent to 108 days and the average age of jury trials was trimmed by 26.4 percent to 322 days.

Meanwhile, Special Jurisdictions, which supports specialist courts and tribunals, achieved a collective 32.9 percent reduction in the average case of cases.

The High Court achieved a 15 per cent reduction in the average age of civil applications in bankruptcy, civil appeals, and company liquidation and probate cases.

“Across New Zealand there has been a significant reduction in the age of criminal cases and reductions in cases overall. We’re continuing to work hard to achieve our target of halving the time it takes to resolve cases,” Ms Adams says.

“Our courts have a hard-earned reputation for fairness and impartiality, but they also need to run on time. The Government is focused on improving the transparency, speed and efficiency with which our courts operate and ensuring the way courts work reflects the modern age we live in,” says Ms Adams.

The Ministry of Justice has set itself a target to reduce the age of court cases by half by 2017.