The government will introduce new measures to help unclog the court system, Justice Minister Simon Power says.
The proposals included raising the jury trial threshold, requiring lawyers to attempt to resolve cases before going to a hearing, and requiring the defence to identify disputed issues so the court could focus on them at trial, Mr Power said at the Sensible Sentencing Trust conference at Parliament today.
He expected the bill would be introduced into Parliament before the end of the year.
He also signalled changes to the Parole Board, including allowing it to conduct screening hearings to "weed out" offenders eligible for parole who clearly had no prospect of success.
"This would allow them to focus on cases which require more careful thought and consideration, and would spare victims the trauma of regular parole board hearings," he said.
The government also hoped to introduce a new Victims Rights Act early next year.
The Ministry of Justice was analysing public submissions on issues including the censorship of victim impact statements, victim-prosecutor communication, and the victim notification system.
Mr Power also signalled changes to the way courts treated child victims and witnesses.
He was exploring the possibility of introducing some elements of an inquisitorial justice system -- which focuses on finding the facts of a case, rather than refereeing between the prosecution and defence -- to limit a child's exposure to the courts.
The government would release a public consultation document on aspects of the bail system later this year.
Mr Power said work to speed up and simplify the criminal justice system was progressing well.
It was unacceptable that it took up to 18 months for cases to proceed to trial, "drawing out what is an already painful experience for victims and their families".
Existing measures to unclog the system were already showing results, including the introduction of audio visual links in courts and prisons and the removal of oral depositions hearings.
The Sensible Sentencing Trust conference -- hosted by the National, Labour and Act parties -- is the first to be held at Parliament in the trust's decade-long history.