New Zealand Law Society - District Court website wins award

District Court website wins award

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A website set up to publish decisions from the District Court and to improve public access to the court's work has won the 2017 Annual Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration from the Australasian Institute for Judicial Administration.

The recipients of the award are Karen Harvey, Director of Publications in the Office of the Chief District Court Judge, and Tony Fisher, the former General Manager of District Courts at the Ministry of Justice. Mr Fisher is now Director of Māori Strategy at the ministry,

The award recognises initiatives that improve access to justice, demonstrate innovation and deliver real benefits. The award selection panel said they were particularly impressed at the range and breadth of judgments met by the website.

An editorial panel of senior judges oversees the selection and publishing process, which is run by a small publishing team based in the office of Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue. The website has published over 1400 decisions since it was launched in mid-2016.

Chief Judge Doogue says the website gives unprecedented public and professional access to significant judicial decisions from multiple jurisdictions of the District Court.

"Before the website existed, District Court decisions were rarely published and were difficult to access, unless in summary as reported by news media," she says.

"The award is richly deserved by those who devised an online publishing system capable of managing the volume and diversity of decisions in the District Court, along with a gold standard system for vetting the sensitive nature of some of the material."

It is the third time in five years that the District Court has won the award. It was previously honoured for its Te Koti Rangatane Court initiative and its restoration of court services in Christchurch after the 2011 earthquakes.