Trans-Tasman courts deal comes into force

New laws which make it easier to prosecute criminals from opposite sides of the Tasman have come into force.

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The agreement between Australia and New Zealand, which has been 10 years in the making, has come into force on Friday.

The new rules make it easier for people in Australia or New Zealand to:

* start court proceedings against a person in the other country;

* require people in the other country to give evidence; and

* register and enforce a civil court judgment in the other country.

People involved in a case in the other country will be able to ask:

* for the case to be heard before a court in their country;

* to appear before the court in the other country via video or audio link; and

* to suspend enforcement of a civil court judgment from the other country.

“Trans-Tasman proceedings arrangements between New Zealand and Australia introduce a range of measures to make a trans-Tasman court case more like a case between people in the same country,” Justice Minister Judith Collins said.

Ms Collins and Australian Attorney-General George Brandis said the agreement was important given the success of the Closer Economic Relations agreement.

“It’s become increasingly easy for people, goods and services to move between Australia and New Zealand,” Ms Collins said.

“This ease of movement creates a greater risk of cross-border legal disputes that have historically been difficult to resolve. The new arrangement is designed to make resolving trans-Tasman disputes simpler and more efficient.”

A working group began looking at the issue in 2003 and legislation was passed in both countries in 2010 but the need to sort out rules and procedures in all seven Australian states meant it’s only now they are coming into force.

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