Chapter 5
Court specialisation for sexual violence cases

The theory and rationale of court specialisation

5.4Arguably it is appropriate to deal with an area of the law that raises particular complexities or sensitivities by a specialist court, which can better recognise, and target, those complexities and sensitivities. Participants in the court process can refine their skills by accruing specialist expertise. Court cases can be handled more consistently, more efficiently, or more appropriately, depending on the inherent features of those difficult cases and the barriers that they might otherwise encounter in the courts.348

5.5Court specialisation can be in the form of a separate listing procedure for certain cases or an entirely separate court. It may target a particular area of the law (such as family law) or particular groups of people (such as young people). Judges and lawyers may be required to become specialised by obtaining some form of special designation or accreditation before they can sit in or appear at court.

5.6A considerable amount of court specialisation already occurs both in New Zealand and overseas. Local examples include specialist courts established through statute (such as the Family Court and the Youth Court), and specialist courts established as initiatives of the judiciary (such as the Rangatahi Courts, the Family Violence Court, and the Alcohol and other Drugs Treatment Court). Separate court lists operate within the High Court349 which recognise that certain types of cases warrant separate court management because of their urgent, important, or specialist subject matter, or because groups of cases with similar characteristics can be managed so that those with precedential value are heard first.350
348Attorney General's Department of New South Wales Responding to sexual assault: The way forward (2005) at 148.
349The Judicature Modernisation Bill 2013 (178-2) will replace the lists with a panel system: see clause 18.
350“High Court lists” Courts of New Zealand <>.