Modernisation of courts will bring NZ into 21st century

        Judith Collins Jpg 119X98          Justice Minister Judith Collins has outlined further proposals to modernise the court system by improving the use of technology.

Earlier this year the Government responded to the Law Commission’s review of the Judicature Act 1908, and these latest proposals aim to improve the flexibility, responsiveness and transparency of New Zealand’s court system.

Ms Collins admits that the court system is still one area in the public sector which operates a paper-based model, but says because people increasingly conduct their daily lives online, “it’s about time we look at how routine court matters can be handled more efficiently to bring justice up to speed”.

As part of the proposed changes, Ms Collins intends to work with the judiciary to get all written judgments published online, unless there is good reason not to, and to provide more information on the delivery of reserved judgments. The proposals would also see greater use of audio-visual link (AVL) technology by creating a presumption it will be used in criminal procedural matters in which evidence is not going to be called.

AVL allows prisoners to appear before a judge without leaving the secure confines of prison grounds. Ms Collins says greater use of AVL would reduce the risks associated with transporting prisoners to court. She cites the current low crime rate (the lowest in 30 years) as providing “a unique opportunity to work differently”.

“We must renew our focus on the underlying causes of crime and crime prevention, modernise and improve our operating model, and build a more customer-focused, lower cost and more accessible justice system.”

Ms Collins intends to introduce legislation to implement the proposed changes later this year.   

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