Ministry of Justice urged to tackle disparity in court service levels

by Sol Dolor11 Dec 2017

The Ministry of Justice has to tackle the variation in court service levels around the country if it is to promote a fairer justice system in the country, a top official said.

The call was made by Andrew Bridgman, secretary for justice and chief executive, in the ministry’s yearly report to the end of 30 June.

“We need to address the huge variations around the country in services levels,” he wrote. “For example, cases in Manukau spend on average 148 days in the system, whereas in Dunedin the average is 103 days. The biggest indicator of this is the adjournment rate. It will be explainable, but that does not make it right. Importantly, we can do something about it.”

Bridgman also called on the ministry to collectively promote greater use of data and insights.

“The courts and tribunal system is a huge enterprise that has historically run without the business tools that most other systems use. If we want the rule of law to be sustained, it has to be supported by good information. Otherwise, like a cottage industry or the local sports club, we will operate on anecdotes and hearsay,” Bridgman said.

He also said the organisation must make greater use of management tools and disciplines in the court system. This can be done by increasing standardisation, improving benchmarking to reduce variations, and increasing the distribution of best practices.

Bridgman said that the increasing the use of technology should also be a focus, as well as becoming better at collaboration.

Related stories:
District Courts land staff reinforcements after funding boost
Thousands of Cantabrians turn up for tour of $300m justice precinct