Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier (top) in Wellington, with lawyers (from left) Annie Scott in Balclutha, Kate McHugh in Invercargill and Dale Lloyd in Queenstown during a successful trial of web-based video conferencing yesterday. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
The New Zealand court system took another step into the 21st
century yesterday afternoon, a successful trial taking place
of web-based video conferencing linking Queenstown,
Balclutha, Invercargill and Wellington.
Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier presided over the
"mock hearing" from Wellington, video links enabling
Queenstown solicitor Dale Lloyd, of MacTodd, Balclutha
solicitor Annie Scott and Invercargill solicitor Kate McHugh
to make submissions without leaving their offices.
The only minor hiccup during the trial was when Ms Scott
dropped off-line momentarily.
Courts Minister Chester Borrows said the mock hearing was an
"important step towards a more modern court system" - and one
which would ultimately save money.
"We've got Invercargill, Queenstown and Balclutha represented
at the moment. If those lawyers had to travel to a common
court, then they would have travel time between those
locations ... and someone's going to have to pay for that.
"There's the delay sitting around and waiting for the matter
to be called. The ability to be able to book an appointment
and run the hearing over this sort of technology has savings
for everyone involved.
"It also enables the courts to operate in areas without a
physical courthouse so has the potential to greatly increase
access to justice for rural communities."
After yesterday's success, a six-month proof-of-concept
trial, involving Family Court hearings, was scheduled to
begin next year.
Several other courts wanted to join the trial.
The trial was expected to include short cause guardianship
cases, dissolutions, Child, Youth and Family cases and some
Mr Borrows also expected, in time, the technology could be
rolled out and used in criminal cases, provided they were
Ms Lloyd said the technology would greatly help with urgent
Family Court cases.