Memorandum for incoming Attorney-General

The Chief Justice has released the memorandum she provided to Attorney-General Judith Collins on Ms Collins appointment to the role of Attorney-General in November 2023. The Attorney-General has agreed to the release and the deletions made to protect privacy and preserve free and frank communication between the Chief Justice and Attorney-General.

The memorandum notes that cost savings are being required of all Ministries other than those charged with providing front-line services.  The courts, supported as they are by the Ministry of Justice, have not been exempted from the budgetary reductions, even though they provide essential front-line services.

The memo addresses a wide range of topics including publication of judicial terms and conditions, the introduction of Te Au Reka (digital case and court management system), changes to the Rules to improve access to justice, appointments to bench, and the legal aid system and sustainability of criminal and family bars. 

Significantly, the Chief Justice outlined the state of the Ministry of Justice’s property portfolio and its legacy of chronic underfunding. Recent examples of problems include flooding, black mould, and weathertightness issues. Projects or planning are underway to address 10 of the 12 most critical sites, which are generally the busiest courts.  Most of these projects are partially unfunded, with some needing substantial further investment.  Essential repair work also has a significant impact where courtrooms have to be taken out of use, increasing the shortage. 

Read more – Link to memo

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