New Chief Justice to be appointed

With the current Chief Justice Dame Sian Eliasretiring in March the Government is starting to look for a replacement.

Stuff:  The hunt for New Zealand’s next chief justice begins

The Government has opened up applications to head New Zealand’s judicial system, with the Prime Minister looking to recommend the next Chief Justice by the year’s end.

It would be the first appointment of a Chief Justice since New Zealand established the Supreme Court, in a break away from the United Kingdom’s Privy Council.

Dame Sian Elias has held the position since 1999 – a time when the Privy Council was at the apex of New Zealand’s court structure.

Elias is set to retire from the role in March, and while a replacement was ultimately appointed by the governor-general, it was on the recommendation of the prime minister.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has laid out a detailed appointment process – first led by the solicitor general – to distance it from recent high-profile and highly political Supreme Court appointments in the United States.

Solicitor-General Una Jagose will lead the work to produce a shortlist of suitable candidates for submission to the prime minister. Ardern said she would then consult the outgoing chief justice before making her recommendation to Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

The Opposition would also likely be consulted at various points throughout the process.

“Given the significance of the role of Chief Justice in New Zealand’s constitutional order, it is important that the appointment process is conducted against transparent criteria,” Ardern said.

“This is also important because this is the first ever appointment of the head of New Zealand’s final appellate court,” she said.