Specialist Courts and Tribunals

Specialist Courts and Tribunals include the Employment Court, the Environment Court, Coronial Services, the Maori Land Court and a range of Tribunals and Authorities.

Employment Court

New business has reduced over the past year and the Court has been able to dispose of more cases than it has received. Consequently the number of active cases on hand for the Employment Court has decreased from 180 in 2010 to 171 cases on hand at the end of December 2011. Changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000 and Holidays Act 2003, in April 2011, have meant an increase in more complex or urgent cases filed with the Court. For example, some cases which were previously heard at the Employment Relations Authority are now heard in the Employment Court; as yet this change has not affected the Court’s overall caseload.

Environment Court

There were 492 cases filed with the Environment Court in 2011, which is 38% lower than 2010. In previous years, the Court has dealt with an average of about 800 per year of the total number of cases filed only 221 were resource consent appeals. This reflects the low application filing numbers at council level. Consequently the Court has been able to dispose of 803 cases, which in turn has seen the number of active cases steadily decrease from 1,236 in 2010 to 954 at the end of 2011.

Coronial Services

There has been an increase of 7% in referrals to the Coroner, with 5,904 referrals this year compared to 5,501 in 2010. The number of cases resolved was 5,273 which was below target. The redirection of resources to support the identification of victims of the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 and the distribution of cases from the Canterbury region to other areas during the recovery period affected national case disposal rates.

Māori Land Court

New applications received by the Court are in line with expected projections for the 2011/12 year, with 5,935 cases received in 2011, this represents an increase of 3% from 2010. The Court disposed of 5,248 cases, compared to 5,253 in 2010. The slight decrease in disposals is because there has been a number of complex applications heard by the Court this year, which required additional hearing time and resourcing.

The re-launch in 2011 of the Māori Land Online website, with Geographic Information System enhancements, has increased the information available to land-owners about their interests in Māori land. This has seen a corresponding 10% increase in the number of applications relating to successions and a 20% increase in applications relating to the management of Maori land interests received across the country in comparison with 2010.

Tribunals and Authorities

The Tenancy Tribunal accounts for 49% of new business for Tribunals and Authorities (excludes Disputes Tribunal figures which are reported separately). The Tribunal experienced a 6% increase in caseload since 2010, due to an increase in the jurisdictional limit of the Tribunal from $12,000 to $50,000 as a consequence of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, which came into effect in October 2010. There were 22,695 applications to the Tenancy Tribunal in 2011 compared to 21,216 in 2010.

The Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority (the Authority) represents 36% of new business for Tribunals and Authorities and was established under the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act 2010. The Authority, which began operating in April 2011 replaced the Private Investigators and Security Guards Registrar and established a new regime for security guards, private investigators, businesses, and crowd controllers to provide more stringent checks and controls for the industry. 

All companies and individuals working in the security industry are required to apply to the Authority to be licensed consequently there were over 17,000 applications for licences and certificates in the first nine months of operation.

The Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT) was established in November 2010 and represents approximately 3% of the Tribunals and Authorities new business.
IPT new business for 2011 was 1,338. The Tribunal disposed of 916 cases in 2011 and at the end of 2011 had 946 active cases on hand, which includes cases transferred from the authorities the IPT replaced.

Disputes Tribunal

Both new business and disposals decreased markedly in the 12 months ending December 2011. There were 16,528 new and reactivated claims in 2011, down from 20,008 in 2010, a decrease of 17%. The Tribunal disposed of 17,589 claims in 2011, down from 19,698 disposals in 2010, a decrease of 11%. As a result, there were 2,894 active claims at 31 December 2011, down 27% from 2010.


Disputes Tribunal workload statistics
Specialist Courts and Tribunals workload statistics