Published on 19 August 2020
New compensation guidelines for people who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned have been issued today by the Minister of Justice, following Cabinet’s approval.
The new guidelines are intended to be clearer, fairer, up to date and more straightforward to apply.
Previous guidelines to aid the exercise of Cabinet’s discretion were adopted in 1998 and last amended in 2001.
The new guidelines streamline the eligibility criteria so that all claims based on wrongful conviction are treated in the same way, removing an unfair distinction based on whether or not the appeal court ordered a retrial. As with the previous guidelines, applicants must establish their innocence on the balance of probabilities. Cabinet must also be satisfied that payment of compensation is in the interests of justice.
The new guidelines also simplify the method of calculating the amount of compensation, update the annual rate to reflect inflation, and provide for a five-yearly review of all monetary rates to enable future adjustments.
The Minister of Justice now has more flexibility to decide the procedure for assessing claims, including whether to seek independent advice.
While there is no legal right to compensation in New Zealand when a person is wrongly convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, Cabinet may pay compensation at its discretion in accordance with the new guidelines.
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