The Criminal Cases Review Commission Act (the Act) received Royal Assent on 16 November 2019. The Act establishes the Criminal Cases Review Commission (the Commission) and redefines the way possible miscarriages of justice are identified. The Act will come into force on 1 July 2020.
The Commission will be an independent Crown Entity governed by a Board of appointed Commissioners. It will employ specialist staff with the mandate to investigate possible miscarriages of justice. If the Commission considers a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, it can refer the case back to the appeal court.
This function will replace the referral function, currently performed by the Governor-General, part of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
The Commission will have the power to develop its own procedures to ensure it can effectively carry out its duties and functions. These procedures will be decided and made publicly available after the Commissioners have been appointed.
Decisions on appointment of Commissioners will be made in 2020. Between three and seven Commissioners will be appointed.
Several other countries have established similar Commissions, including the United Kingdom (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), Scotland and Norway. These models are a valuable source of experience for New Zealand’s Commission to draw upon.
Work is currently underway to ensure the Commission will be established and able to receive applications by 1 July 2020.
Read the most recent media release about the CCRC:
Colin Carruthers QC, has been appointed as the Chief Commissioner for a term of 18 months commencing 1 February 2020. Mr Carruthers is one of New Zealand’s most experienced barristers, appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1990.
To support the Chief Commissioner in setting up the Commission, an Establishment Advisory Group has been set up. Its membership includes people from a range of backgrounds who will provide important expertise and different perspectives.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission Establishment Advisory Group includes:
To enhance the CCRC’s independence and be free from perceived or real political interference it will be based in Hamilton, separate from the judiciary and current justice institutions.
Further information will be made available as this work progresses.
The Commission won’t be able to receive or investigate applications until it is established on 1 July 2020. In the meantime, if you think there may have been a miscarriage of justice in your case, you can still make an application to the Governor-General for the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy.
More information on the current process, the Royal prerogative of mercy, can be found at: