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The Role of the Chief Justice

The Chief Justice is described in the Judicature Act as the head of the New Zealand Judiciary. The Chief Justice presides in the Supreme Court and has administrative responsibilities for that court and, through the Chief High Court Judge, for the High Court.

The Chief Justice has a number of statutory and non-statutory responsibilities and functions. They include:

  • Judicial function - As head of the Judiciary, the Chief Justice has seniority over all judges. The Chief Justice is a judge of the High Court and presides in the Supreme Court.
  • Administrator of the Government - The Chief Justice acts as Administrator of the Government in the absence or incapacity of the Governor General, with all the powers and functions of the office including chairing Executive Council (see Clause XIII of the Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand SR 1983/225).
  • Liaison between the Judiciary and other branches of government - The Chief Justice is the principal point of contact between the Executive Government and the Judiciary. In particular, the Chief Justice liaises with Government on policies or practices that impact upon judicial administration and the discharge of judicial responsibilities.
  • Speaking for the Judiciary and explaining its role in the legal system.

 

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