Courts Matters Bill and the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill pass final readings

The Courts Matters Bill and the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill passed into law on 7 November 2018. The bills aim to establish a framework to help courts and tribunals provide what the Government describes as a more modern, customer centred service. He

One of the more significant changes is an attempt to address the backlog of cases in the Human Rights Review Tribunal by allowing for the appointment of deputy chairpersons

Associate Minister of Justice and for Courts, Aupito William Sio says that the legislation will also help the courts and tribunals to provide “better customer protection and redress, improve New Zealanders’ access to justice, and ... enable the Ministry of Justice to provide safer courts and tribunal buildings.”

Key changes include:

  • enabling the appointment of deputy chairpersons to the Human Rights Review Tribunal and making procedural changes that will help to reduce the case backlog that has developed in recent years;
  • 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;
  • extending powers of Court Security Officers to deny entry to, and to remove and detain disruptive individuals in court and tribunal buildings;
  • making it easier to set up arrangements to pay fines in affordable instalments;
  • changes to criminal and family court procedures to improve effectiveness and timeliness;
  • allowing Police on the side of the road to issue Driver License Stop Orders;
  • increasing the financial threshold for the Disputes Tribunal from $15,000 to $30,000;
  • giving the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal the power to award compensation of up to $100,000 for financial losses.

Most amendments will come into effect immediately while the remaining amendments will be brought into effect by mid-2020.

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