High Court

The High Court hears more serious criminal and civil cases. It also hears appeals from lower courts and tribunals. The civil jurisdiction accounts for approximately 60% of the Court’s overall workload, while the criminal jurisdiction accounts for around 40%. The High Court in Auckland accounts for around 40% of the High Court’s overall workload.

Criminal jurisdiction

While the number of active jury trials decreased in the past 12 months, trials are requiring more hearing time, and the total time required to hear all jury trials has remained the same.

The mix of trials heard in the High Court has changed since mid-2008:

  • Since July 2008, short and simple Class A drugs trials can be heard in the District Court, and have consequently been removed from the High Court’s criminal jurisdiction
  • A greater proportion of trials involve multiple accused
  • A greater proportion of trials are particularly complex, such as those relating to finance companies.

As a result of this change in complexity over the past three and a half years, the average estimated hearing time for a High Court jury trial has increased.

Median waiting time from committal to trial as at 31 December 2011 was 359 days, a decrease of 19 days from December 2010.

Civil jurisdiction

Note: ‘Civil cases,’ in the statistics below, includes the following proceeding types: general proceedings, judicial review applications, defended originating applications and defended interlocutory applications. ‘Civil appeals’ includes appeals from the District Court, appeals from the Family Court and administrative/tribunal appeals. Statistical reporting is restricted to those cases that are ready to be heard.


There has been an overall decrease in new civil cases filed over 2011. However, both the number of civil cases ready to be heard and the number of cases disposed increased in 2011. The number of civil cases awaiting hearing or awaiting judgment decreased slightly over the last year as a result of the high level of disposals.

The median waiting time for a hearing for general civil proceedings (measured from the date the hearing was scheduled to the hearing date) was 271 days at 31 December 2011. This was a decrease of 61 days from December 2010. Median waiting time for civil proceedings has been decreasing over the last two years, after increasing consistently between 2003 and 2009.

The number of new civil appeals filed in the High Court decreased by 5% in the last year. Disposals have decreased by 8% over the same period. Consequently, the number of active civil appeals has increased slightly compared with the same time last year.

The statistics provided on the civil jurisdiction will be enhanced for the next publication of biannual statistics in July 2012, to report on a broader range of civil applications dealt with by the High Court, including cases other than those ready to be heard.


Workload Waiting times*
High Court national workload statistics  
High Court jury trial workload statistics High Court jury trial waiting time for scheduled hearing
High Court jury trials held  
High Court civil proceeding workload statistics High Court civil proceeding waiting time for scheduled hearing
High Court civil appeal workload statistics  

* Notes on waiting times