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Types of courts

There are lots of different courts in New Zealand. This page talks about courts that deal with criminal matters. The Courts of New Zealand website(external link) has information on other types of courts and tribunals.

District Courts(external link)
Most criminal matters are heard in the District Court. The District Court cannot hear murder, manslaughter or Class A drug offences. There are District Courts throughout New Zealand.

Family Violence Courts
(external link)
Family Violence Courts are part of the District Courts, but take place at a regular time and place and have dedicated staff to support people going through the process. In some circumstances, a judge may make a protection order in the Family Violence Court. 

High Court(external link)
The High Court has jurisdiction to hear all criminal cases involving indictable offences or cases where the defendant chooses to have a trial by jury. Some really serious crimes, like murder, can only be heard in the High Court. The High Court also sentences offenders who have been sent to it for sentencing by a District Court.

Court of Appeal(external link)
The Court of Appeal deals with civil and criminal appeals from proceedings heard in the High Court. It may also hear appeals from more serious criminal proceedings in District Courts.

Supreme Court(external link)
The Supreme Court is New Zealand’s final court of appeal. Appeals to the Supreme Court can only be heard with leave of the Supreme Court.

Coroners Court(external link)
Coroners investigate the circumstances and cause of death, and make recommendations for the improvement of public safety and to prevent deaths in similar circumstances. A hearing at the Coroners Court is called an inquest.

Family Court(external link)
Family Courts are a division of the District Court. They deal with a wide range of family law matters, including care of children, separation and divorce and domestic violence. A judge can make a protection order in the Family Court.

Youth Court(external link)
The Youth Court is a division of the District Court. It deals with criminal offending by young people aged 14, 15 and 16 years. In cases of very serious offending, the Youth Court can deal with young people aged 10 to 13.

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