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Chapter 8 The Courts in New Zealand. Privy Council. Court of Appeal. High Court. Other Specialist Courts. Family Court. District Court. Disputes Tribunal. Finis. Disputes Tribunal. Referee not necessarily legally qualified

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Chapter 8

The Courts in New Zealand


Privy Council

Court of Appeal

High Court

Other Specialist Courts

Family Court

District Court





Referee not necessarily legally qualified

Hears disputes involving claims up $7500 ($12 000 with agreement)

Informal – no legal representation allowed.


District Court

District Court Judges (legally qualified)

Community Magistrates

Justices of the Peace

Juries (serious criminal cases)

Civil Jurisdiction (District Court Judges)

Claims for damages, etc. up to $200 000 Land to the value of $500 000 Similar limits in Admiralty

Not legally qualified


District Court

Criminal Jurisdiction

Summary offenses Indictable offenses tried summarily

Preliminary proceedings on indictments

Indictable offenses – serious offences

DC Judge and jury

DC Judges, JPs, Community Magistrates


Family Court

Family Court judges – qualified lawyers and are also judges of the District Court

Jurisdiction over family matters – dissolution of marriage; adoption; property settlements


High Court

Chief Justice of New Zealand High Court Judges

(All qualified lawyers with extensive court experience)

Juries – criminal and defamation cases

Original jurisdiction Civil – all matters but generally those of a more serious nature $200 000 +

Criminal – only the most serious of crimes: murder, importation of class-A drugs, etc.


High Court

Appellate jurisdiction

The High Court hears appeals from the District Court – civil appeals and appeals from summary criminal proceedings.

Appeals from the Family Court and the Environment Court lie to the High Court.


Court of Appeal

  • The Chief Justice of New Zealand The President of the Court of Appeal Judges of the Court of Appeal High Court Judges appointed to hear appeals in one of the Divisional Courts of the Court of Appeal
  • Jurisdiction is purely appellate – hears appeals from the
  • High Court
  • Employment Court
  • Maori Appellate Court

Privy Council

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council – sits in London.

Senior British judges – Law Lords and holders and past holders of high judicial office.

Hears appeals in cases where there is important point of law, from Her Majesty’s realms and territories overseas and a few Commonwealth Countries.


The Environment Court

Formerly the Planning Tribunal

Established under Part XI of the Resource Management Act 1991

Environment Court Judges (qualified lawyers) Environment Commissioners

Hears appeals and resolves disputes relating to resource consents and other matters under the Act.

Appeals to the High Court on points of law only.


Employment Relations

Court of Appeal

On a point of law

The Employment Court

By way of review

Employment Relations Authority

Mediation services


Judges are qualified lawyers under the Chief Judge.

Exclusive jurisdiction with the Employment Relations Authority over all employment matters.

Officials with the power to investigate employment issues and resolve them. The parties are required at least to have attempted mediation through the:

Set up to provide facilities for the settlement of employment disagreements.

The Employment Court

Employment Relations Authority

Mediation services


Court of Appeal

The Maori Appellate Court

The Maori Land Court


The Maori Land Court

Established under Te Ture Whenua or Maori Land Act Chief Judge; Deputy Chief Judge; Judges of Maori Land Court

Exclusive jurisdiction over claims relating to Maori land. Appeal lies to:

The Maori Appellate Court

Three judges of the Maori Land Court

Appeals from the Maori Land Court

May hear a case stated by the High Court relating to Maori Land. Appeal lies to the Court of Appeal.