Criminal Cases Review Commission

Parliament is considering a Bill that would set up an independent body to investigate cases where people may have been wrongly convicted or sentenced.

The proposed Criminal Cases Review Commission would look into alleged miscarriages of justice and refer deserving cases back to the courts.

Currently in New Zealand, the Governor-General does this as part of the Royal prerogative of mercy process.

A commission would enhance the justice system by creating an independent body with dedicated staff that would have a mandate to identify and help address possible miscarriages of justice.

Several other countries have such commissions, including the United Kingdom, Scotland and Norway. These models provide valuable experience to inform the design of a commission for New Zealand.

Key aspects in the Bill about a commission include:

  • who could apply to ask it to investigate a specific conviction or sentence
  • its ability to proactively look into specific cases without being asked
  • its powers to carry out inquiries into whether broader issues in the justice system are contributing to miscarriages of justice
  • what powers it would have to access and disclose information
  • the test it would use to determine which cases to refer to the appeal courts

The proposals may change as the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill goes through Parliament.

Read the Minister's news release about the Bill - Significant step to correct miscarriages of justice(external link)

Next steps

The Bill was introduced on 27 September 2018. People will be able have their say on the Bill during the Select Committee process.

Follow the progress of the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill on the Parliament website(external link)

Read about how to make a submission on the Bill(external link)

Find out how a Bill becomes law(external link)

Related documents

Regulatory Impact Statement:

Criminal Cases Review Commission [PDF, 497 KB]

Departmental Disclosure Statement:

Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill [PDF, 300 KB]