Source: (2002) Preliminary Paper 52. Wellington, NZ: Law Commission of New Zealand.

Established by statute in 1985, the Law Commission is an independent, publicly funded, central advisory body. Its purpose is to promote the systematic review, reform, and development of the law of New Zealand. By design, the Commission must take into account the Maori dimension and give consideration to the multicultural character of New Zealand society. This paper is the second part of a three-stage review of the court system in New Zealand. In the context of national and international issues and trends in court reform, it focuses in detail on the day-to-day reality for people using the courts. In doing so, it presents a variety of options for change in the New Zealand court system. The document is organized into five parts: (1) voices – a summary of views commonly expressed by people about the court system, with particular attention to four groups of people (Maori, ethnic minorities, victims, and people with disabilities); (2) access to courts – a discussion of four main problem areas for most people who use the courts; (3) processes – an examination of criminal and civil justice processes with respect to their efficiency, suitability to the issues, and safeguarding of rights for all parties; (4) structure – an analysis of workloads in the general courts, as well as a review of the roles and adequateness of specialist courts; and (5) what do you think? – a final section inviting response on the array of possible changes to the court system. This document anticipates a final report with specific recommendations for reform from the Law Commission t the Government.


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