Executive summary

A note on the history of this review

30The terms of reference for this review were received in 2010. As formulated, they were broad and wide-ranging. They directed the Commission to undertake a high-level review of criminal trial processes, and whether the essentially adversarial framework within which those processes operate should be modified or fundamentally changed. The Commission was directed to consider the suitability of inquisitorial models of criminal justice for New Zealand. It was asked to put a particular emphasis on the need for change in the way sexual violence cases are handled in an adversarial criminal justice system.

31Before the Commission had finally reported its recommendations, the review was put on hold. Four years later it was revived and we are now, in 2015, at the stage of making final recommendations. In the interim period, there has been some change in the scope of the review. We have been asked to make our recommendations in an abbreviated timeframe and have received subsequent additional direction as to the terms of reference. This, plus the Commission’s subsequent assessment of the areas where the need for law and policy reform is most pressing, have led us to focus solely on the area of sexual violence and the appropriateness of the existing justice response to sexual violence. We wish to note the assistance received from the Commission’s earlier research and express our hope that the matters covered in the Issues Paper published by the Commission in 2012 can be further progressed if considered appropriate.3
3Law Commission Alternative Pre-trial and Trial Processes: Possible Reforms (NZLC IP30, 2012).