The Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal has just announced the commencement of a new kaupapa inquiry into claims concerning the justice system. This inquiry was included in the original kaupapa programme, but it was originally listed later in the order of inquiries. The change in order is in line with a 2019 indication from the Chairperson that the Tribunal would be flexible with the order of the kaupapa inquiry programme if claimant and Crown priorities were to change.

In recent years, there have been a number of claims before the tribunal relating to the justice system which have been deemed urgent, and many more applications for urgency. The Chairperson considers that this indicates a weight of claimant concern that is sufficient to justify starting the kaupapa inquiry into justice system claims sooner.

The inquiry will focus on the administration of justice. The issues have been summarized as concerning criminal justice and corrections, the civil court (including legal aid, barriers to accessing courts, the colonial justice system, and the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council) and the Māori Land Court (including Māori land law, succession, court procedure, and costs).

New issues and areas of overlap with other inquiries will continue to arise as other claimants seek to participate in this inquiry. Memorandum-directions on the next steps for the inquiry will be issued in due course.

If you have Treaty of Waitangi claim, it pays to take advice from an experienced Treaty of Waitangi lawyer.

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