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Supreme Court increases access to justice

01 July 2004

Supreme Court increases access to justice

New Zealand's Supreme Court opened today with its historic first sitting.

"Now, for the first time in our history, New Zealand has an indigenous final appellate court, sitting at the apex of our justice system, providing an overview in the clarification and development of all New Zealand law," said Attorney-General Margaret Wilson.

New Zealanders have access to a final court, in their own country, able to hear appeals of employment, environment, and family court, as well as criminal and commercial matters.

There will also be more access to justice for New Zealanders wishing to appeal criminal matters as currently it is very rare for the Privy Council to grant them leave to appeal.” . "New Zealand can never be accused of rushing into things and the idea of relocating our final appellate Court to our shores has had a long and considered history.

" From Sir Robert Stout’s initial proposal in 1904, through to the Law Commission report of 1989, the then Solicitor-General John McGrath’s options paper in 1995 until the present day, the issue of a new final appellate court in New Zealand has been thoroughly discussed and debated.

"Such an approach accords with the development of our justice system in general. It has always been an evolutionary process, responding to our nation’s growth and developing sense of identity. It was not until 1958 that we finally established a permanent Court of Appeal and now, over 40 years later, we have created the Supreme Court.

"The Privy Council has stood us in great stead as we evolved as a nation from colony to Dominion to independent state. Now we follow other Commonwealth nations in establishing our own Supreme Court, leaving only the Bahamas, Brunei and Mauritius to continue to appeal to the Privy Council. Tuvalu and Kiribati have not taken a case there in 30 years.


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