District Courts unified

It’s the biggest shift in legislation underpinning the courts for nearly 40 years

District Courts unified
New Zealand’s District Court is now unified, bringing together the general court, the Family Court, the Youth Court, and the Disputes Tribunal under one roof.

New court statutes took effect Wednesday under the District Court Act 2016, part of a selection of legislation that will modernise the country’s courts. Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue said that this marks the biggest shift in legislation underpinning the courts for nearly 40 years.

“The vast majority of people who go to court in New Zealand rely on a district court, and will continue to attend their nearest courthouse,” Doogue said in a statement.

“They may notice little practical change, but this is a historic milestone. The measures are designed to bring more clarity and transparency and will help the district court adapt to changes experienced since the landmark Royal Commission on the Courts recommended establishment of district courts in 1978.”

The courts now have expanded jurisdiction in civil matters up to $350,000 from a previous limit of $200,000. Changes also include the availability of new orders. The courts will also see an increase of the permanent number of judges to 160.

The legislation also provides more specified powers for the chief judge as well as requirements to publish progress on delivery of reserved judgments.

Doogue said that the legislation, which also establishes more audio-visual links in court, simplifies the court’s structure and makes it in-line with modern approaches.


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