Preface to the September 2019 edition

This edition of the Media Guide for Reporting the Courts and Tribunals has been specifically produced to incorporate changes in criminal procedure and terminology brought about by the Criminal Procedure Act 2011.

The Act, which comes fully into force on 1 July 2013, is the biggest overhaul of criminal procedure in 50 years. It is designed to simplify and streamline court processes and reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve cases.

The media provides the way in which much of the public see and perceive the court system. With new or significant changes to 60% of procedures in the District Court and 30% in the High Courts, it's important that you understand what's changed.

This includes:

  • reducing offence categories from 7 to 4 and removing summary/ indictable distinction
  • increasing the threshold jury trials can be elected — from 3 months to 2 years imprisonment — and only mandatory jury trials for the most serious offences (such as murder and manslaughter)
  • improving pre-trial and case management processes to progress cases outside of the courtroom
  • enabling the use of modern technology in court proceedings including Police electronically filling charging documents

Appendix A sets these changes out more fully and includes a list of new court terminology.

These changes only apply to cases that are commenced after 1 July 2013. This means for a time, depending on when the case began, court cases will be progressing under either old or new procedures. You should refer to the previous edition of the Media Guide for Reporting Courts and Tribunals for any cases that began before 1 July 2013.

We hope you find this updated guide useful. If you want more information on the changes visit 'New criminal procedure' or contact the Ministry of Justice Communication Services Team (see section 8).

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