19 Mar 2014

Wait times at courts drop

10:05 am on 19 March 2014

The Courts Minister says the district and family courts are getting faster at hearing cases but there is scepticism at how long this will last.

Chester Borrows has released figures showing cases are being heard and dealt with more quickly.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows. Photo: RNZ

In the Auckland region, the average waiting time has dropped just over six percent, or 13 days, while at the Wellington District Court, a drop of 20 percent, or 40 days, was recorded, from April to December last year.

Mr Borrows says the nationwide drops are due to backroom efficiencies and fewer cases going to court.

But Criminal Bar Association president Tony Bouchier says he believes the improvement is temporary.

He says the way courts operate under the new Criminal Procedure Act, which came into effect in July last year, is already holding cases up and this could get worse.

Mr Bouchier says that is because the Act prescribes hearings take place within set timeframes and prosecution agencies are having great difficulties at meeting these.

Mr Bouchier says this is because they are busy and under resourced.

But Mr Borrows believes a drop in wait times will continue.