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Pilot scheme aims to cut court waiting times

Pilot scheme aims to cut court waiting times

A pilot scheme aimed at reducing waiting times started at the Wellington District Court today, Courts Minister Rick Barker said.

"About 150,000 people nationwide attend the District Court each year to respond to charges ranging from disorderly behaviour, excess breath alcohol and murder.

"They enter the court system through what is known as the 'criminal list' court, and the Wellington pilot will test a new way of streamlining this part of the legal process," Mr Barker said.

The pilot will involve the Court Registrar, Duty Solicitors and Solicitors, Police Prosecutor, Legal Services Agency and the Community Probation Service working closer together to speed up the flow and management of defendants at their first appearance.

Matters such as receiving legal advice from a duty solicitor or solicitor, making an application for legal aid, or getting bail conditions agreed by consent will all be taken care of 'on the spot', so defendants get the right information at the right time from the right people.

"They will then appear before a judge, with all the preliminary issues completed," Mr Barker said.

The current practice of remanding most defendants after their first appearance to appear before a judge on another day to allow time for their issues to be dealt with will end.

The few people unable to be dealt with on the same day, will be given appointment times to attend court at a specific time on another day.

"The result will be better informed defendants, fewer multiple appearances, less time spent waiting at courthouses and better use of the judges valuable time," Mr Barker said.

The pilot will operate for one year and be evaluated over that period.


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