Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Biggest reform of criminal procedure in 50 years passes

Hon Simon Power
Minister of Justice

4 October 2011
Media Statement

Biggest reform of criminal procedure in 50 years passes

Justice Minister Simon Power today welcomed Parliament’s passage of the omnibus Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill which is a milestone in efforts to put the right to a timely trial back at the heart of the criminal justice system.

“New Zealand’s key criminal procedure laws date back to the 1950s and have been subject to years of ad hoc reform,” Mr Power said.

“Until now the outdated and cumbersome system may have been working well from the perspective of those who earned a living from it, but it has been failing those who found themselves in it through no fault of their own.

“This bill changes all that. It modernises and speeds up the criminal justice system and ensures more timely justice for victims, witnesses, defendants, and the community.

“This bill has been a decade in the making and I’m confident it strikes the right balance between time and cost savings and preserving a defendant’s right to a fair trial.”

Specifically, the bill will:

• Require parties to progress their cases as far as possible before appearing before a judge.
• Streamline procedural steps to remove unnecessary appearances so cases progress more quickly.
• Require the defence and prosecution to meet before trial to discuss what issues, if any, they can agree on before trial. The outcome of the discussion must be recorded in the case management memorandum.
• Raise the jury trial threshold from offences carrying a sentence of more than three months’ imprisonment to offences carrying a penalty of a term of imprisonment of two years or more.
• Allow greater flexibility to continue with a trial when jury numbers fall to 10.
• Introduce incentives and sanctions to encourage parties to comply with procedural requirements, including costs orders against parties for significant procedural failure.
• Clarify that the court can proceed in the absence of a defendant only if the court is satisfied certain conditions are met. This reflects current practice.
• Clarify and strengthen laws around suppression of names and evidence, including that there is no presumption of extreme hardship solely on the ground that the defendant is well known or famous.
• Introduce higher penalties for the publication of suppressed information to include fines of up to $100,000 for a body corporate and a maximum term of imprisonment of six months for someone who knowingly or recklessly publishes suppressed information.

Mr Power said the reforms have the potential to free up more than 9,000 court sitting hours each year (or about 13% of the current total effort in the criminal jurisdiction) by delivering benefits which include:

• 36,650 fewer court events.
• 230-450 fewer jury trials.
• Shaving 6-9 weeks off the average time it takes to complete a jury trial (currently 16 months in the High Court and 12 months in the District Court).
• $22.4 million in savings over five years.

Mr Power said parts of the Criminal Procedure legislation will be implemented early next year, including the changes to suppression laws. However, many of the changes will not take effect until 2013 to allow the justice sector time to make the necessary changes to support the new processes, ensure staff and other court users are trained, and to develop the necessary court rules.

“This bill will provide an enduring legislative framework for criminal procedure and will ultimately enhance public confidence in the justice system.”

Mr Power said the passage of the bill is an important part of a wider work programme to further speed up case disposal rates, improve customer service, and enhance the justice sector’s capability to respond to future demands.

These reforms, many of which have already begun, include:

• Improving the quality and affordability of the legal aid system.
• Increasing the use of technology, including expanding the use of court audio visual links, and replacing paper court records and case files with electronic filing and management.
• Putting more effective enforcement measures in place for the collection of fines and reparation.
• Overhauling victims’ rights.
• Improving the way child witnesses are treated in the criminal justice system.
• Developing new delivery models for some court services, such as making greater use of call centres and online processes.
• Reviewing prosecution services and the Family Court.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Patience: Drive Safe

Be patient before passing is the AA's message for drivers this Labour weekend.

"People taking crazy risks to get past other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things on the road,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“The weather is looking good for the long weekend so the roads will be busy. Unfortunately, that also increases the chances of people getting frustrated and trying a risky passing manoeuvre. When they get past, there will probably be more traffic up ahead anyway so it won’t get people there faster.” More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

Employment Relations Bill: Govt Strains To Get Tea Break Law Through

The Government has been left with egg on its face - failing to get its much-vaunted, but hugely unpopular, meal break law passed in the first week of its new term, Labour spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says. More>>

ALSO:

Guns: Police Association Call To Arm Police Full Time

"The new minister gave his view, that Police do not need to be armed, while standing on the forecourt of parliament. The dark irony was that the interview followed immediately after breaking news of a gunman running amok in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa..." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Tokenism Of New Zealand's Role Against Islamic State

Our contribution against IS will be to send SAS forces to train the Iraqis? That’s like offering trainers to General Custer just as the 7th cavalry reached the Little Big Horn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Shell And Todd Caught Drilling Without Approval

Multi-national oil company Shell’s New Zealand arm and local energy giant Todd Energy have breached the new law governing New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Environmental Protection Authority says in an Oct. 10 document released by the Green Party. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Pharmac, Gough Whitlam And Sleater-Kinney

We’re not at the outset of these negotiations. The outset was six years ago, and negotiators were hoping to have some sort of ‘framework’ deal finished in time for the APEC meeting in a few weeks’ time. These ‘extreme’ positions are what we’ve reached near the intended end of the negotiations… More>>

ALSO:

PM Of Many Hats: Questions, No Answers On Whale Oil

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. More>>

ALSO:

Aussie Investigation Dropped: Call On Minister McCully To Pursue The Case Of Balibo Five

West Papua Action is deeply concerned at the lack of any clear outcome from the Australian Federal Police inquiry into the 1975 deaths of the ‘Balibo Five’ including NZ journalist Gary Cunningham. More>>

ALSO:

'Feed The Kids' Bill: Metiria Turei To Lead Fight On Feeding Hungry Children

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sat at 10.30am on Tuesday before MPs were summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news