Court User Survey 2010 Results

Courts Minister Georgina te Heuheu has released results from a comprehensive survey of New Zealand court users.

Understanding our Court Users: Court User Survey 2010 was compiled by research company Colmar Brunton from 2,037 face-to-face interviews with non-professional court users from the 8 largest District and combined District/High Courts around the country, as well as the Auckland High Court. The survey was carried out between 14 June and 12 July 2010.

At a high level, 77% of survey respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the services and facilities provided at the court. These findings are comparable to similar surveys in Scotland and in England and Wales and an earlier survey undertaken in Auckland District Courts.

The overall satisfaction varied by type of court user. Those visiting courts for administrative matters not related to a case and those bringing information or forms about a case were the most satisfied (88%), whereas those taking part in a case were the least satisfied (72%).

In relation to the type of case, those taking part in a tenancy or disputes tribunal case were the most satisfied (88%), whereas those taking part in a criminal or traffic case were the least satisfied (71%). Maori respondents were less likely to be satisfied (72%) than other ethnicities.

Nearly all respondents (86%) found it either very easy or fairly easy to find where to go in the courthouse, with 7% finding it either fairly difficult or very difficult. Respondents were asked to rate how satisfied they were with 3 aspects of accessibility. The opening times of the building was rated positively by 85% of court users, while the convenience of hearing times was only rated positively by 54%. 69% of court users rated “easily identifiable staff available to deal with any queries” positively.

Most respondents – 86% - felt very or fairly safe at court, with 5% indicating that they had felt unsafe. The main reason given for feeling unsafe was because of the type of people that were around them. The area where most people felt unsafe was in the waiting area or area outside the courtroom.

Over half (54%) of court users went to a counter and of these 61% were served immediately. 22% had to wait up to 3 minutes, 9% waited between 3 minutes and 6 minutes, and 7% waited longer than 6 minutes.

The survey found that 65% of court users had their hearing within one hour, but 12% waited for over 3 hours for their hearings to begin.

Most people were at the court either to take part in a hearing or court case (37% of respondents) or to support a friend or relative (23%).

Court users who had contact with staff were asked about what service they expected and what service they received. 66% expected good service and 61% said the service they received was better than expected. Court users with high expectations were the group most likely to say that their interaction with court staff exceeded expectations.

Of those surveyed, 65% had contact with court staff on their visit. Court users rated staff positively on most aspects: being treated fairly (88%), staff were competent (85%), staff were helpful (85%), staff did what they said they would (85%), and the user’s individual circumstances were taken into account (80%). However, fewer people agreed that the interaction with staff represented “good value for tax dollars spent” (64%).

Around 74% of court users were satisfied when it came to the “overall rating of quality of service” received from court staff, and 11% were dissatisfied.

Ratings of court facilities were generally lower than the ratings for staff service. Respondents who used various court facilities were asked to rate them from very good to very poor. The jury assembly rooms were rated highest, with 80% rating them as either very good or fairly good. The toilets had the lowest rating with 60% rating them as either very good or fairly good.

When asked for an overall rating of facilities at the courthouse, 68% rated them very good or fairly good.

The full survey is available here.