High Court Civil National Performance Measures

High Court Civil National Performance Measures

The performance measures presented here provide a set of indicators (over a 12 month period or as at 31 December 2014 depending on the measure) that are used to monitor the performance of the High Court’s civil jurisdiction.  Performance standards for each measure (by case type where applicable) have been determined by the High Court Judiciary.

The performance measures are:

  • Clearance rate
  • Waiting time to trial
  • Time to judgment

For clearance rate, a target compliance of 100% has been set.
For waiting time to trial compliance of 80% has been set.

For time to judgment, a target compliance of 90% judgment delivery within 3 months has been set.

The case types are:
Originating applications
Judicial Review
Probate (clearance rate only)
General proceedings (Long cause and short cause)

  • Long cause matters have an estimated hearing time of more than 5 days
  • Short cause matters have an estimated hearing time of 5 days or less

Each performance measure is defined, the purpose described, and actual performance presented.  Data as at 31 December 2014 is used ( see note 1 ).

Clearance Rate

  General Proceedings Originating Applications Judicial Review Appeals Insolvency Probates
Target compliance 100%
Actual (12 month rolling) 98% 98% 93% 94% 100% 98%


Clearance is calculated by the number of disposals in a given period as a percentage of the new business that came into the court in the same period. When the clearance rate is equal to 100% disposals are keeping up with new business; when the clearance rate is above 100% disposals are exceeding new business; and when the clearance rate is less than 100% disposals are not keeping up with new business.


Clearance rate measures whether the court is keeping up with its incoming caseload. If cases are not disposed in a timely manner, a backlog of cases awaiting disposition will grow.  Knowledge of clearance rates by case type can help a court pinpoint emerging problems and indicate where improvements may be made. While courts aspire to clear (dispose of) at least as many cases as have been filed/reopened/reactivated in a period by having a clearance rate of 100 percent or higher, clearance rates can be affected by a sudden increase or decrease in volume.

Summary for 2014:

Filings for general proceedings, originating applications and judicial reviews decreased over the last year and only very slightly increased for insolvency proceedings and appeals.  The number of disposals over the past year matched the number of new filings for insolvency proceedings.    In the case of general proceedings, originating applications and judicial reviews the drop in disposals over the past year slightly exceeded the drop in new filings.  Disposals of judicial reviews have almost caught up with the substantial increase in new filings of judicial reviews between 31 October 2011 and 31 July 2013.

Waiting time to trial

General Proceedings – Short cause General Proceedings – Long cause Originating Applications Judicial Review Appeals
Performance standard ≤12 months ≤18 months ≤6 months
Target compliance 80%
Actual compliance 90% 87% 73% 79% 84%


Waiting time to trial measures the length of time from when a case is certified capable of being readied for hearing until the future date of the scheduled substantive hearing, for cases which have a scheduled date of hearing.


The waiting time to trial measure is an indicator of the ability of the Court to provide a timely hearing date for cases that are ready to proceed, and of the effectiveness of the Court’s scheduling practices.  When a case is certified “can be readied for hearing” preparation may still be required i.e. minor amendments to the pleadings, completion of minor interlocutory application and further refinement of the issues.  See rule 7.6(3) High Court Rules ( see note 2 ). 

It should be noted that this measure is also affected by the availability of parties, counsel, and witnesses.

Summary for 2014:

Targets for waiting time to trial are being exceeded for both long and short cause general proceedings.  The waiting time to trial for originating applications is below the target, and slightly below the target for judicial reviews. The waiting time to trial is above the target for appeals.

Time to judgment

Time to judgment
Performance standard < 3 months
Target compliance 90%
Actual compliance 93%


This measure is defined as the time from last day of the hearing or receipt of final submissions to the date of judgment delivery.  It includes judgments delivered ‘on the papers’ ( see note 3 ) which are assumed to be delivered in less than 3 months.  The Judicial Christmas and Easter breaks ( see note 4 ) are excluded from the calculations.

A judgment is classified as a decision that receives a citation number from the High Court’s citation database; it therefore excludes for example minutes, undefended summary judgments, judgments on undefended insolvency applications, and judgments by default.  The source of the data is the citation database.

Summary for 2014:

The ‘time to judgment’ target of 90% judgment delivery within 3 months was met in 2014.



Note 1: The explanations provided below have been drawn from material available in the Trial Court Performance Measures section of the Courtools website, http://www.courtools.org/Trial-Court-Performance-Measures.aspx (developed by the National Centre for State Courts (US)), as well as definitions developed by the Ministry of Justice.  The data used is sourced from the Ministry’s Case Management System, and for the Earliest Available Date measure, from each High Court registry’s scheduling staff.

Note 2: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1908/0089/latest/DLM1818863.html

Note 3: Judgments ‘on the papers’ are recorded as issued on the day.

Note 4: The Christmas break runs from the 20th of December until the 31st of January (inclusive).  The Easter break runs from the Thursday before Good Friday until the Sunday after Easter Sunday (inclusive).