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Ongoing lightning strikes in our court system are having serious repercussions, National’s Courts spokesperson Chris Penk says.

“Chief Judge for the District Court, Jan-Marie Doogue has said that as a result of lightning strikes ‘there may very well be a miscarriage of justice arising out of undue delay’.

“The Minister told Parliament that Chief Judge Doogue’s assessment is ‘just her opinion’, proving the Government isn’t taking this issue seriously.

“The Secretary for Justice has also said that the strike action undertaken by court staff is ‘irresponsible’ and ‘unsafe’. 

“There has even been violence in the Christchurch District Court, with an alleged assault against a person who would have appeared by audio-visual link, but the industrial action meant they had to appear in person.

“In response to written questions about the impact of the strikes, the Minister stated that he does not know how many court sitting hours have been lost or how many cases have had to be rescheduled as a result of strike action.

This is despite the Chief Judge of the District Court’s decision that judges should ‘place clearly on the court record whenever a case is deferred or adjourned because of the dispute, to enable more accurate assessment of its impact’.

“These strikes are seriously disrupting our courts system and delaying people from receiving a fair hearing.

“The Minister needs to ensure that integrity of our courts system is maintained and that justice is properly serviced.”

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