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November 30, 2022

New Zealand`s Legal System

New Zealand has common law, which means that judges make legal decisions based on previous decisions of judges as well as laws passed by Parliament (written law). In the early 2000s, there were more than 11,000 lawyers practising in New Zealand. Most were both lawyers (who work in the courts) and lawyers (who provide legal advice). Lawyers must have a law degree and undergo professional training. Although much of New Zealand`s legal system was inherited from Britain, it developed unique features. For example, there is a universal accident compensation system. This avoids resorting to legal action to obtain compensation for injuries caused by accidents. For more information on how to get help with legal issues, please visit our Legal Support page. The courts are generally open to the public, so case law can be observed by the public.

Subject to certain legal exceptions, members of the public and the news media have the right to attend hearings. This is called the principle of “open justice”. An open procedure maintains public confidence in the judicial system. Various other annotated commentaries are available online, as well as various electronic versions of leading legal textbooks such as Fisher on Matrimonial and Relationship Property. For more information on the justice system, visit the Department of Justice website. Rosa Polaschek graduated from the University of Auckland, BA/LLB (Hons) as a Senior Researcher in Law. She worked as a Registrar of Judges at the High Court of New Zealand and then at the Crown Law Office. Its interests lie in constitutional law, public law and human rights. In 2017, she received the Cleary Memorial Award from the New Zealand Law Foundation, for a young lawyer with outstanding prospects for the future of the legal profession.

In 2018, Rosa was awarded a Hauser Global Scholarship to earn an LLM (Master of Laws) at New York University. The following article updates the previous version, written by Margaret Greville. New Zealand`s subscription-only legal databases (mainly Westlaw NZ, LexisNexis NZ and, for more specific topics, CCH) contain comprehensive compilations of cases, both reported and unreported. This may include material that is removed for the general public, but is made available to lawyers for research purposes. Westlaw and LexisNexis also offer databases of unofficial case summaries and case citation functions, including BriefCase (Westlaw) and LinxPlus (LexisNexis). The Law Commission is an independent body that makes recommendations to the government on laws it believes need to be reviewed and proposes legislative reforms. Most New Zealand laws were originally based on English law, which was imported to New Zealand after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Both New Zealand common law and New Zealand status reflect this heritage, although both now have distinctive New Zealand flavours. This is the result of the common law precedent system, which means that every case heard is based on legal principles developed in previous cases. Cases are adversarial so that the law is applied to the facts of a particular case and the judicial development of the law takes place as the old right to new facts.

Over time, this led to a departure from some British legal doctrines. While some English laws remain applicable in New Zealand (such as the Magna Carta: see Imperial Laws Application Act 1988), they have been gradually replaced by New Zealand laws. New Zealand has an independent civil service. It functions as a unitary state without a federal system. New Zealand has ordinary courts and specialized courts. Most legal issues are dealt with by “ordinary courts”. These courts hear criminal and civil matters. You can ask your victim support worker or victim counsellor about any part of the justice system that you are not sure about. They can also help ensure that your rights as a victim are respected throughout the court process. Many of the rights protected by the courts date back centuries. The Magna Carta of 1215, which limited the power of the monarch, is still applied in New Zealand. Much of New Zealand law, such as the common law tradition and constitutional framework, was adopted by the English legal system, which was applied in 1840 (to the extent applicable to New Zealand circumstances).

The Treaty of Waitangi occupies a special and evolving place in New Zealand`s social, legal and political structure.