Statement of Principles
The Statement of Principles records the respective responsibilities and obligations of the Ministry of Justice and Judiciary relating to the administration of the courts and how these are appropriately discharged.
The separation of powers and independence of the Judiciary are fundamental to our constitutional system. Although these concepts are illustrated in terms of the formal relationship between the Chief Justice and the Executive government (principally through the Attorney-General), they are also engaged on a daily basis in terms of interaction between the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice as the department responsible for supporting the Judiciary to administer the courts.
The Judiciary is supported by the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice is a core government department responsible for the provision of justice policy, as well as operating courts and supporting the judiciary. In these circumstances, it is essential that the Statement of Principles identifies the respective obligations and expectations.
The Statement of Principles provides the framework within which the Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice can operate appropriately. These are the constitutional principles that govern the relationship between the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary. The principles are not new but have not been written down in a mutually agreed form before and this was done in 2018.
The Statement of Principles set out in this way is not only for the benefit of the Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice but it also permits a greater understanding of how the separate arms of government interact with each other in terms of the administration of the courts. This is important to understand.
Other jurisdictions comparable to New Zealand have similar principles to guide the relationship between the Judicial branch of government and the Executive branch. For instance:
- Guidelines for Communications and Relationships between the Judicial Branch of Government and the Legislative and Executive Branches Adopted by the Council of Chief Justices of Australia and New Zealand on 23 April 2014 (www.jca.asn.au)
- Guidance to the judiciary on engagement with the Executive (www.judiciary.uk)
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of British Columbia and the Chief Justice of British Columbia (www.bccourts.ca)