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Justices of the Peace

District Court - Justices of the Peace

Functions of a Justice of the Peace in the District Court

In New Zealand, Justices of the Peace are involved in an ever-increasing multitude of matters including both Ministerial and Judicial duties. In the District Court suitably trained Justices carry out such functions as:

  • jurisdiction determined by statute, including minor offences and some traffic cases
  • issue of remands and bail
  • hearing of undefended cases
  • presiding over defended trials
  • preliminary hearing of certain offences.

Justices of the Peace have no inherent jurisdiction and may exercise only those powers given to them by statute. Section 4 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1957 states that the functions and powers of Justices shall be:

  1. To take oaths and declarations under the provisions of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 or any other enactment.
  2. To carry out such functions and exercise such powers as are conferred on Justices by the Summary Proceedings Act 1957 or by any other enactment.

Although the office of Justice of the Peace does hold a status, the position is not an "honour" but one involving serious duties and responsibilities. Justices have the important responsibility of assisting to preserve the rule of law.

For more information about Justices of the Peace and their wider duties, visit

Appointment of Justices of the Peace

Members of Parliament nominate people to be Justices of the Peace. It is the responsibility of each electorate Member of Parliament to ensure that his or her electorate is adequately serviced by Justices of the Peace. Nominations for a person to be appointed as Justices are accepted only from Members of Parliament. List Members may submit nominations in their own name but they will need to have the prior endorsement of the appropriate electorate Member.

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