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Labour’s record: longer court waiting times

Kate Wilkinson MP
National Party Associate Justice Spokeswoman

8 May 2008

Labour’s record: longer court waiting times

Reporters note: Individual court data attached

Waiting times for criminal trials and the number of outstanding cases in the High Court continue to increase at an alarming rate, says National’s Associate Justice spokeswoman, Kate Wilkinson.

“Labour has well and truly missed the boat on addressing trial waiting times.”

She is releasing the most recent figures which show that at 30 November last year:
* Median waiting time for High Court jury trials increased by 70%, to 304 days, since 2003, and by 10% in the five months from July.

* Waiting time in district courts increased by 27%, to 270 days, since 2004, and by 11% in five months.

* Some courts have waiting times of more than a year, including High Courts at Wanganui (383 days) and Whangarei (382), with times more than doubling since 2003 in Auckland, Blenheim and Gisborne, and district courts in Rotorua (389), Blenheim (384), and Invercargill (369), with times more than doubling in Blenheim, Invercargill and New Plymouth.

* Others with waiting times of more than 300 days include High Courts at Hamilton, Nelson, Rotorua, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Wellington, and Auckland, and district courts in Greymouth and Kaikohe.

* The number of High Court trials outstanding increased by 118%, to 294, since 2002, and by 16% in five months. In Auckland and Dunedin the number of cases has quadrupled since 2002 and in Wellington it has more than tripled.

“These figures show quite clearly that under Labour, waiting times and outstanding cases have got worse.

“Though there has been a small improvement in some courts, and in the number of district court trials outstanding, overall the courts system is something of a disaster.

“The Minister will no doubt float to the surface as he usually does to try to dispute this, but these are his own department’s figures.

“Labour is failing to ensure justice is served in a timely manner.

“The longer the waiting lists, the longer that victims have to wait for justice, and the more chance there is of people avoiding trial, as happened in 2006/07 when 18 people walked free, 10 of them because of systemic problems in the justice system.

“Instead of the Minister floundering around like he usually does, he should tell the public why he and his Government haven’t got on top of this after nine years.”

Attachments: court-by-court tables on waiting times and outstanding cases compiled from answers to parliamentary questions


outstanding_cases_29.42.xls [updated]


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