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Annual statistics for the District Courts June 2016

District Courts


The New Zealand District Courts have originating jurisdiction over all criminal matters.  They deal with all but a small number of serious offences which are dealt with by the High Court.  In its civil jurisdiction the District Courts can hear general claims up to $200,000. The Family Court and Youth Court are divisions of the District Court.

These are the annual statistics for the District Court, including the Family Court, Youth Court, and Civil for the 2015/16 financial year ending 30 June 2016. Please refer to the glossary for the definitions of terms used in this commentary.

Criminal jurisdiction

Total criminal for District Courts

In the 2015/16 financial year, there was a 2% increase from 2014/15 in total criminal new business for District Courts, which was a further increase since 2013/14.

Comparing the 2015/16 financial year to 2014/15, this jurisdiction has seen:

  • A 2% increase in new business to 136,989 cases
  • An 1% decrease in disposals to 133,470 cases
  • An 11% increase in active cases to 31,874 cases

Jury trials – subset of total criminal

The jury trial jurisdiction deals with the more serious criminal cases.  As at 30/6/16 the District Court jury trial caseload is made up almost entirely of cases commenced under the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 (CPA).   

Comparing the 2015/16 financial year to 2014/15, this jurisdiction has seen a:

  • 17% increase in new cases to 3,042
  • 22% increase in disposals to 2,676 cases
  • 9% increase in active cases to 2,184 cases

It should be noted that the figures quoted relate to case volumes and not the underlying complexity and time taken to deal with Jury Trials. 

Youth Court – subset of total criminal

From 1 July 2013, significant changes to the Youth Court jurisdiction mean all serious charges, except murder and manslaughter, relating to young people, and still including certain charges against children aged 12 and 13 must now be heard and determined in the Youth Court.

After a sustained decrease over several years to 2012/13 the Youth Court numbers have started to rise since the 2014/2015 financial year. Comparing the 2015/16 financial year to 2014/15, this jurisdiction has seen a:

  • 10% increase in new business to 4,321 cases
  • 4% increase in disposals to 4,077
  • 17% increase in active cases to 1095

Civil jurisdiction

The majority of cases in the District Court civil system are undefended, and are resolved without proceeding to hearing and are not included in the figures below.

Comparing the 2015/16 financial year to 2014/15, this jurisdiction has seen a:

  • 19% decrease in the number of newly defended cases to 666
  • 5% increase in the disposals of defended cases to 788
  • 10% decrease in the number of active defended cases to 523.

Family Court jurisdiction

The Family Court makes orders for any person (including the unborn) in need of care and protection. Not only is the age band wide but the variety of cases that come before the Court is considerable.                                                                   

Family Court stats provided below show the number of applications as opposed to the number of cases. This is due to the fact that each case may involve several applications.  Therefore, the numbers reported below do not represent either the numbers of litigants or substantive cases before the Family Court and are not representative of how cases are managed.

Applications are grouped under the following Case Types:

  • Care of Children Act
  • Children, young persons and their families
  • Dissolution (divorce)
  • Domestic violence
  • Mental health
  • Protection of personal and property rights
  • Relationship property
  • Other

Comparing the 2015/16 financial year to 2014/15, this jurisdiction has seen a:                             

  • 2% increase in new applications to 59,449
  • 2% decrease in disposals to 58,338
  • 2% increase in the number of active applications to 23,848.



Total Criminal Court workload statistics
District Court Jury Trial workload statistics
Youth Court Criminal workload statistics
District Court Defended Civil workload statistics
District Court Family Application workload