New Zealand Law Society - Environment Court workload stable, says report

Environment Court workload stable, says report

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The total number of appeals and applications filed in the Environment Court appear to have stabilised over recent years to a level the Court can manage efficiently and maintain clearance rates that prevent unnecessary delay, Registrar Harry Johnson says.

The Report of the Registrar of the Environment Court for the year to 30 June 2017 has been tabled in Parliament.

It shows that a total of 485 matters were filed in the reporting year, with 453 disposed. This was a clearance rate of 93%.

Cases filed and disposed in Environment Court, year to 30 June

Year Plans Appeals Resource
Misc Total Filed Total Disposed
2008 404 558   187 1149 1051
2015 153 113 2 124 392 415
2016 203 103 2 120 428 422
2017 101 112 4 268 485 453

The volume of resource consent appeals is closely linked to the volume of notified applications being processed by local authorities, and plan appeal numbers fluctuate as planning instruments undergo change.

The report says that while case numbers are an indicator of the demand placed on court resources, they are not the only indicator. Other factors such as case size, number of parties/topics and complexity influence the level of judicial intervention through case management, mediation, expert witness conferencing and ultimately any hearing that may be required.

At 30 June 2017, there were 207 plan appeals outstanding and 80 resource consent appeals outstanding.

The report says section 268 of the Resource Management Act 1991 empowers the Environment Court to arrange mediation and other forms of alternate dispute resolution. It says the Court actively encourages this "and consequently the majority of cases will undergo mediation".

Court-annexed mediation volumes and outcomes, year to 30 June

Outcomes 2017 2016 2015
Total mediation events 244 232 164
Agreement reached in full 103 69 63
Agreement reached in part 65 84 49
Agreement not reached 48 53 42
Mediation vacated 21 26 10
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