12 Nov 2012

Audio-visual link to be trialled in Family Court

9:12 am on 12 November 2012

A six-month pilot scheme will test the relevance of teleconferencing in Family Court hearings.

The court's principal judge, Peter Boshier, has already taken part in a demonstration of the scheme - a mock hearing in which he was connected to lawyers in three South Island towns.

The mock hearings revolved around fictional clients such as John Brown, a young boy whose safety was compromised by his mother's former partner.

One of the participants, Queenstown lawyer Dale Lloyd says the technology could reduce delays in similar cases.

She says a judge only visits her local family court once a month, but audio-visual technology means discussions can be carried out more easily.

However, Ms Lloyd believes it is still essential to have everyone in the same room for hearings where a viewpoint is to be debated.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows says the pilot scheme will begin early in 2013 involve courts from Gore south, where travelling distances are problematic.