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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Supreme Court

The Supreme Court was established in 1841. From the beginning it exercised the functions that in England were exercised by separate Courts and are still exercised by separate Divisions – Queen's Bench, Chancery and Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty. The Court comprises the Chief Justice and 15 other Judges, the number being fixed by statute. The jurisdiction of the Court is twofold – original and appellate. It has, by statute, a general jurisdiction to administer the laws of New Zealand. One aspect of this original jurisdiction is an inherent power to control inferior Courts and tribunals through the writs of certiorari and prohibition. This enables the Supreme Courts to determine the limits of jurisdiction of other Courts and is to be distinguished from its appellate function by which the Court reviews a case that was properly heard by a lower Court. All criminal cases and the great majority of civil cases determined in the Magistrates' Courts are subject to appeal to the Supreme Court. In a few instances an appeal lies to the Court against the decision of an administrative tribunal, for instance, the Licensing Control Commission.