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Government welcomes review of court system

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice

Hon David Benson-Pope
Minister Responsible for the Law Commission
Associate Minister of Justice

Media Statement

16 March 2004

Government welcomes review of court system

The Government has welcomed the Law Commission’s report Delivering Justice for All, as a valuable input into continuing reform of the justice and court system.

The report, commissioned by the Government in 2001, was tabled in Parliament today.

"Considerable thought and consultation has gone into the report, which offers an independent, comprehensive look at the court system," said Justice Minister Phil Goff and Minister Responsible for the Law Commission David Benson-Pope.

"While the Commission has stated that 'we can be proud of our court system, and we are not proposing wholesale change', clearly there is need for reform and change in the system.

"The Commission highlights in particular the need to make courts more accessible, more user-friendly and to improve information and understanding on how the system works.

"The report provides 160 specific recommendations. A number of these are already being actioned by the Government as a result of legislative reform or pilot schemes in operation.

"This includes the pilot List Court in the Wellington District Court; the Court-referred restorative justice pilot; the Public Defender Service to be piloted this year in the Auckland and Manukau Courts, and changes in the Care of Children Bill relating to restrictions on publications in Family Court cases.

"Other changes, including changes to eligibility for legal aid and improving access to justice, are under development.

"Some proposals, including changing the structure of Courts, may have significant financial implications. These will require further study by Government, more specific costings and a cost-benefit analysis.

"Some of the recommendations are controversial, such as removal of the right to a jury trial for offences where the maximum sentence is under five years' imprisonment, and wider use of name suppression.

"The Government has made no decision to make such changes. It will want to consider community responses to the proposals before reaching any decision on their implementation or otherwise.

"Enormous work has gone into the report, which will stimulate discussion and take forward the debate on how best to improve justice and the court system in New Zealand.

"The Government will carefully consider all recommendations prior to a substantive response to the report being made," the Ministers said.


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