On 1 March 2017, five new Acts came into force with the purpose of modernising the legal framework for New Zealand's Courts. While much of the focus is in reorganising existing laws, there are some important substantive changes to our Courts and the way they are operated:
- Senior Courts Act 2016 -- consolidates legislation governing the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. The High Court Rules 2016 have been published as a separate legislative instrument under this Act.
- District Court Act 2016 -- replaces the District Courts Act 1947 and reconstitutes the District Courts as a single court (with various divisions). Of significance, it increases the civil jurisdiction for claims up to $350,000.
- Judicial Review Procedure Act 2016 -- reorganises procedural provisions for judicial review.
- Electronic Courts and Tribunals Act 2016 -- facilitates for the increased use of electronic documents in the courts and tribunals.
- Interest of Money Claims Act 2016 -- creates a single statutory system for the award of interest on money claims and provides standard provisions for calculating interest.
These Acts represent a significant change to our judicial system and are intended to improve the transparency of court arrangements. The new framework aims to improve accessibility, simplify language, and create greater certainty over procedure.