Bills to modernise courts and tribunals introduced to Parliament

by Sol Dolor09 Aug 2017
A government official has introduced two bills to modernise the country’s justice system. The Courts Matters Bill and the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill have been introduced by Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell to Pāremata Aotearoa as the government pushes to update the country’s courts and tribunals.

“New Zealand has a robust justice system which serves us well, but we can and should make the system easier to use and ensure that it keeps pace with people’s expectations,” Mitchell said. “Consistent, transparent and efficient processes in our courts and tribunals, with financial thresholds and levels that reflect the needs of today, are important considerations for people accessing justice services.  New Zealanders should also expect to feel safe while in a court.”

The bills include a provision to double the Dispute Tribunal’s financial threshold to $30,000 to increase the number of disputes resolved by the body, which is considered by the associate minister as a cheaper and faster alternative to a court case.

They also include language giving the Real Estate Disciplinary Tribunal the power to take stronger action and award as much as $100,000 in compensation.

The bills also propose that defendants accused of lower-level offenses, such as those punishable by community work, be allowed to enter a written guilty plea rather than being required to appear in court. They also expand court security officers’ power to deny entry to and to remove and detain troublemakers to make court buildings safer.

The bills also modernise and align the powers and procedures of the 21 tribunals overseen by the Ministry of Justice.

Mitchell said that these bills – along with the Criminal Procedure Act, the Judicature Modernisation legislation, and amendments to laws on evidence and coroners – are part of the government’s push to make the judicial system easier to understand and use.

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