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Consultation open on possible reform of civil trial procedures

16 January 2020

The Rules Committee is seeking feedback from the legal profession on a consultation paper which sets out four areas of potential reform of the rules governing civil trial procedures.

The objective is to improve access to justice by reducing the cost of bringing civil matters to court.

The areas idenified for possible reform are:

  • Introducing a short trial process in the High Court, and/or modifying the existing short trial process in the District Court;
  • Introducing an inquisitorial process for the resolution of certain claims in the High and District Courts;
  • Introducing a requirement that civil claims be commenced by a process akin to an application for summary judgment; and
  • Streamlining current trial processes by making rule changes intended to reduce the complexity and length of civil proceedings, such as by replacing briefs of evidence with “will say” statements, giving greater primacy to documentary evidence, and reducing presumptive discovery obligations.

The consultation paper says that recognising the wide scope of these potential reforms, the committee is seeking comment at an early stage of the reform process.

"The committee will develop the potential reform options discussed, after considering the submissions received. More specific proposals will be consulted on later.

"The committee has not decided its preferred option(s) and it may consider options to reduce the costs of bringing a matter to court that are not discussed in this paper. Submitters are encouraged to make any other proposal for rules reform that they consider would improve access to civil justice."

Submissions can be made directly to the Rules Committee at rulescommittee@justice.govt.nz by 1 May 2020. The New Zealand Law Society's committees are also considering the proposals and comments are welcomed and can be sent to emily.sutton@lawsociety.org.nz.

Further information and background research pages are available on the Rules Committee's consultation project page.

Last updated on the 10th February 2020