New Zealand Law Society - Ministry outlines courts modernisation roadmap

Ministry outlines courts modernisation roadmap

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The Ministry of Justice has developed a five-year modernisation roadmap to achieve its goal of modernising courts and tribunals.

The ministry's Statement of Intent for 2017 to 2022 says courts and tribunals modernisation is one of four strategic goals. The others are to reduce crime, victimisation and harm, to deliver improved justice outcomes for Māori, and to provide great service to the public every day.

The statement says a significant part of modernisation is to move away from viewing cass as a series of individual steps and to think about them in the context of people's lives.

"We want to:

  • make it easier for people to access, engage and resolve matters,
  • minimise the impact on those most at risk,
  • reduce unnecessary activity and churn on all participants,
  • maximise the effective use of all our resources."

The ministry says the five-year modernisation roadmap uses a mix of approaches.

"Over the first two years (2017/18 to 2018/19) we are undertaking short to medium-term initiatives that will make a difference to a person's experience. By 2019/20 (year 3 of the roadmap) we expect that there will be opportunities for more fundamental change towards modernisation, for which we would need new investment."

It says modernising will require building capability in five areas:

Electronic self-service: Make it easier for people to do things for themselves. "We are piloting a secure online filing portal for lawyers and progressively implementing electronic casebooks in the Courts. We are using an iterative and collaborative approach to develop things fast and help us to learn about tomorrow."

Case flow management: Make it easier to organise, manage and complete the processes required to administer cases (and other justice services) end to end.  "We want to improve how we manage cases by making it easier to prioritise and distribute tasks, and track cases. We are looking to reduce the need for rework, duplication of effort and investment in low value tasks."

Event management: Improve how we schedule and manage events. "We have established a National Scheduling team to efficiently and effectively schedule cases, so that people can have greater certainty an event will go ahead on the day it is scheduled."

Remote participation: Make it easier to appear or achieve things remotely. "We are looking to extend the use of Audio Visual Services, while upholding the principles of justice and the intent of the Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010."

Business intelligence and performance: "Use data to understand how we can improve. We are putting a business intelligence tool into our people’s hands to help them lead their teams, manage their resources, provide better services and improve organisational performance through accessible, timely and reliable data."

Asking how it will know if it is succeeding, the ministry says it aims to resolve all serious harm cases within 12 months.

"This long-term aspirational goal is based on the premise that justice delayed is justice denied. It is a goal that our customers, our people, and our sector partners can understand and work towards. Achieving it will take several years and require us to work with the judiciary and our sector partners," it says.

"To ensure other areas perform equally well while we focus on serious harm cases, we will set performance measures for each case type, and interim targets for each year to monitor progress towards our goal. We will include some of these measures in the Estimates of Appropriations each year and we will include the rest in our internal planning and reporting."