Speedier court judgements

September 27th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports:

Justice Minister is putting judges on notice that painfully slow delivery of reserve judgments will no longer be acceptable. …

Rather than imposing her own plan on what is a reasonable time, she wants each judicial sector to come up with a plan: the Employment Court, the Environment Court; the Maori Land Court; the District Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Cabinet has agreed to pass a law that will require the chief judges to set protocols for their about reserved decisions, including providing information on the progress of decisions and on the number of judgments outstanding beyond a reasonable time for delivery.

Judges would not necessarily be named and shamed, “not unless that is the protocol,” she said, “but I would say there is a lot of public appetite for knowing what is actually happening to people’s cases.”

Some courts are addressing the issue voluntarily, including the High Court, and the court that Ms Collins points to as the worst offender, the Employment Court.

But there will now be a statutory requirement for all courts to address it.

She was particularly concerned about delays in the Employment Court where the difference between hearings and judgments being issued can be up to two years.

Waiting two years for a decision is way beyond unacceptable. The approach proposed seems sensible – have each Court set their own protocols about the maximum expected time for a decision.

Ms Collins said some members of the bench might see her actions as interference with judicial independence.

“The concept of judicial independence is something I take very carefully. But my view is that judicial independence relates to what is in the judgment, not whether or not we have one.”

Bar Association president Stephen Mills QC said timeliness of judgments was “highly desirable”.

“The issue of whether that is best managed as it is now, internally by the heads of bench, or whether it is appropriate it be the subject of some kind of legislative direction is a matter the Bar Association will have a view [on] when it looks more closely at what the minister has in mind.”

Another useful change:

Another of Ms Collins’ measures will require a consistent approach by the courts to judicial conduct and what judges should and shouldn’t do in terms of appointments, activities outside work and when they should recuse themselves from cases.

Ms Collins acted as Attorney-General over the case of former Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson, who resigned while fighting allegations of misconduct for not recusing himself from a case involving a business associate.

The Judicature Modernisation and Other Matters Bill is expected to be introduced by the end of the year.

Sounds like a good piece of law reform.

 

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24 Responses to “Speedier court judgements”

  1. kowtow (8,721 comments) says:

    Employment,Environment and Maori Land Court could safely and quickly be dispensed with altogether.

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  2. virtualmark (1,536 comments) says:

    kowtow,

    Then all the cases that arise in those areas would go where exactly? Into the District Court where they may well be heard by a judge whose area of expertise was tax law? Or criminal law?

    If you don’t like the idea of an Employment Court, an Environment Court or a Maori Land Court then the answer is to look at how you can simplify the legislation so that there’s less cases in those areas.

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  3. virtualmark (1,536 comments) says:

    Watching Crusher vs the Judges will be popcorn worthy. The irresistible force meets the precious peacocks. Feathers will fly.

    As Corporal Jones would say (the judges) “don’t like it up ‘em”.

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  4. doggone7 (818 comments) says:

    Waiting two years for a decision is definitely beyond unacceptable. Collins is trying to keep the court system freed up and shows that by being against the legal blood alcohol limit being lowered – she doesn’t want too many people going to court.

    If she makes burglary, theft and robbery not criminal offences the courts will be freed up even more! Then the judges will have more time to complete their reserved judgements. Actually the politicians are obfuscating with crime stats so why not carry it a bit further? If she just gets rid of all criminal law she can claim to have totally rid us of crime!

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  5. mikenmild (11,598 comments) says:

    Legalising a range of currently banned substances would free up a lot of court time and jail space too.

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  6. Weihana (4,583 comments) says:

    DPF,

    Waiting two years for a decision is way beyond unacceptable

    Agreed. But what is the problem here? Judges attending too many cocktail parties and not doing their work? Lack of resources and overload of cases? Overly complex legislation to manage?

    Seems like Judith is simply barking “hurry up” without offering any insight into what is actually occuring. She points to the Employment Court as being “the worst offender”. I note the Employment Relations Act 2000 has been amended 7 times in the past 12 years. The Holidays Act has also recently been amended.

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  7. OneTrack (3,211 comments) says:

    Pay the judges by the case and not the hour, and you would see a startling clearance rate.

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  8. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    @kowtow – “Employment,Environment and Maori Land Court could safely and quickly be dispensed with altogether.”

    I agree, and that goes for the Family Court as well.

    Why can’t all of the cases in the above areas be heard in a District Court?
    Heck – they’re *all* “legal cases”, it’s just that they’re in different areas of the law. So what? Do I need a different TV for every kind of TV program that I watch?

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  9. kowtow (8,721 comments) says:

    virtual mark ,do away with the legislation behind them .Yep.

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  10. Chuck Bird (4,922 comments) says:

    I just had my Settlement Conference. It did not go too bad. I was told by the judge that what was said at the Settlement Conference was confidential so I better be a little bit careful. We of course did not reach a settlement so it changed to a Directions Conference. At the end of it this conference after the judge left the room this former lawyer and nutbar handed me what I thought was a copy of a proper submission. It turned out to be an eight page threatening rant warning how long I could end up in jail if I did not comply with his demands. This was followed by a dozen pages from the Crimes Act showing how long I could go to jail for. I did not look at it till the next day and then cracked up laughing. I will soon take it to my local to amuse my mates.

    This was after the conference and is not a court document so I do not think he is entitled to any privacy.
    Now back on topic I have and out of the box idea how we can save taxpayers money by allowing retards to make vexatious claim or counterclaims. We could agree between parties to debate them on Kiwiblog and let the readers vote as well as comment.

    I will just quote a small part. He has a heading,”Abuse, Character Assassination and Intimidation by Bird” followed by “Bird’s level of argument is illustrated by the following examples:”. He lists 12 I will just quote number 9.

    He has forced a sale of my home because of allegedly improper and perjured applications to the court which were incorrect because of his refusal to account. He owed me money when he sued claiming I owed him money. Thus he is 100% responsible for the loss of my home at a fraudulently low price although other are 100% responsible as well.

    I think there may be something wrong with his math.

    I would be happy for the lot to be published on DPF’s blog but as I do not claim to know defamation law so I will email the whole PDF file to David and he can decide if he wants to post it under humour.

    I would of course be happy for this nutbar sociopath to respond. This could be like reality TV in the US with Judge Judy. Instead of Judge Judy everyone can have their say.

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  11. lastmanstanding (1,300 comments) says:

    And about time to. The Judicary in this country are a collective disgrace. They are hypocrites of the highest order. They are tardy slow and show arrogance and disrespect to their employer the good citizens of this land.

    Whilst they demand those who are before them to jump thru hoops at their behest and command when it comes time to front up with their so called judgments they are slower than a week of Sundays.

    Good on Minister Collins for calling them out. Time they did better. Much better. They represent a very poor return for the enormous sums and perks they receive.

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  12. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    They represent a very poor return for the enormous sums and perks they receive.

    So stop paying taxes.

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  13. Kea (13,275 comments) says:

    “So stop paying taxes.”

    We won’t need to if you stop receiving hand outs.

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  14. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    We won’t need to if you stop receiving hand outs.

    I try to keep the Crown at arm’s length financially, there is less bad karma that way.

    Like lastmanstanding says, the NZ judicairy is a disgrace, and people dishonour themselves when they seek judgment from them.

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  15. smttc (761 comments) says:

    A little bit of ignorance being expressed by Thor42 back there.

    The family court is a specialist court dealing with cases which are beyond the purview of the general public. In other words, there is no general public interest in everyone knowing the dirty laundry of why a couple’s relationship did not work and what they are arguing about in court as a consequence. The district court is a forum generally open to the public with generalist judges. The family court is neither of these things.

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  16. BeeJay (72 comments) says:

    About bloody time! Too many lazy Judges who want to defer making a decision, because they may get appealed so drag out their findings. They show little or no concern for litigants, on either side. Had one recently who decided to send a case to full trial because making a decision was “too hard”! Another $100k later the Court of Appeal overturned the decision! Even lawyers call some of them “lazy judges”!! Good call, Judith Collins!

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  17. Nostalgia-NZ (5,270 comments) says:

    I’d like to know the details of the judgement(s) that take 2 years to be delivered. Some mischief in that claim but a willing meal for gropers prepared to swallow anything.

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  18. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    @smttc – “The family court is a specialist court dealing with cases which are beyond the purview of the general public. In other words, there is no general public interest in everyone knowing the dirty laundry of why a couple’s relationship did not work and what they are arguing about in court as a consequence. ”

    I agree – I’m sure there is not (general public interest). The courtroom could surely easily be closed to the public during a Family Court hearing.
    What’s the difference between having a Family Court session in a District Court courtroom and then (say) a burglary trial immediately afterwards?

    @smttc – “The district court is a forum generally open to the public with generalist judges. The family court is neither of these things.”
    Closing the courtroom during FC sessions solves the former.

    As for “generalist judges” – well then, *get them educated in Family Law.*
    It’s not *that* big an area. Goodness only knows they earn enough – let them earn their money for once.

    It seems that the main obstacle is the *judges* and their lack of familiarity with Family Law. That is surely not a showstopper – it can be overcome.

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  19. smttc (761 comments) says:

    @Thor42

    Sigh

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  20. PhilP (163 comments) says:

    Just watch the do gooders, Liebore and Gweens start shrieking about the nasty Nats and Collins interfering in the judicial process.

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  21. Johnboy (16,980 comments) says:

    I’ve always found that if I work hard all day, tend my flock and keep out of trouble, I never have any problem with the Judicial system.

    It seems to make me richer too as I don’t waste money on fucking lawyers.

    Some of the rest of you are obviously too bloody stupid to have learned this yet! :)

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  22. wreck1080 (3,956 comments) says:

    clever judges can also be very very lazy judges.

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  23. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (894 comments) says:

    All reforms will be reversed on Day 1 of Curryleaf’s regime. So why bother?

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  24. Nostalgia-NZ (5,270 comments) says:

    Collin’s need to heed her own concerns about delays, applications under the RPOM are regularly taking over two years and then giving unsatisfactory results because of political interference from her own office.

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