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Courts and Tribunals amendments in effect

Associate Minister of Justice and for Courts Aupito William Sio has announced that the final amendments in the Courts Matters Act 2018 and the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Act 2018 come into effect today.

“These two acts form part of the Government’s efforts to provide New Zealanders with a more modern, fair and effective justice system,” says Aupito William Sio.

“Both Acts are already helping courts and tribunals to provide better customer protection and redress and improve New Zealanders’ access to justice. They have also enabled the Ministry of Justice to provide safer courts and tribunal buildings.

“Among the changes taking effect from today is the financial threshold of the Disputes Tribunal which is doubled to $30,000 so more disputes can be resolved in a less expensive, simple and quick manner. Previously, the Disputes Tribunal could only deal with disputes of $15,000 or less; or up to $20,000 if all parties agree.

Other changes in effect from today include:

• giving the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal the power to award compensation of up to $100,000 for financial losses caused by a real estate agents’ unsatisfactory conduct;
• authorising the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority to discipline unsatisfactory conduct such as bullying as well as more serious misconduct; and
• introducing simpler processes for placing charges on real property, such as land, and forcibly selling real property to enforce large overdue fines. This will enable these processes to be used more often.

Some of the changes in these Acts that are already in effect include:

• enabling the appointment of Deputy Chairpersons to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, which allowed the Government in May to appoint five Deputy Chairs, which aims to reduce the case backlog and provide timelier access to justice;

• allowing the Legal Complaints Review Officer to dismiss unmeritorious claims and to decide more matters on the papers to help reduce the case backlog;

• modernising and aligning the powers and procedures of 21 tribunals the Ministry of Justice supports, making it easier for people to resolve issues and to move on with their lives;

• extending the powers of Court Security Officers to deny entry to, and to remove and detain disruptive individuals in court and tribunal buildings; and

• making it easier for people who can’t afford to pay their fines to set up arrangements to pay in affordable instalment.

“The final amendments in effect today, along with the existing changes will provide New Zealanders with modernised and improved processes at New Zealand’s courts and tribunals,” says Aupito William Sio.

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