Criminal Cases Review Commission

The Criminal Cases Review Commission Act (the Act) received Royal Assent on 16 November 2019. The Act establishes the Criminal Cases Review Commission (the Commission) and redefines the way possible miscarriages of justice are identified. The Act will come into force on 1 July 2020.

The Commission will be an independent Crown Entity governed by a Board of appointed Commissioners. It will employ specialist staff with the mandate to investigate possible miscarriages of justice. If the Commission considers a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, it can refer the case back to the appeal court.

This function will replace the referral function, currently performed by the Governor-General, part of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

The Commission will have the power to develop its own procedures to ensure it can effectively carry out its duties and functions. These procedures will be decided and made publicly available after the Commissioners have been appointed.

Decisions on appointment of Commissioners will be made in 2020. Between three and seven Commissioners will be appointed.

Several other countries have established similar Commissions, including the United Kingdom (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), Scotland and Norway. These models are a valuable source of experience for New Zealand’s Commission to draw upon.

Implementation update

Work is currently underway to ensure the Commission will be established and able to receive applications by 1 July 2020. Read newsletters from the Chief Commissioner Colin Carruthers about the establishment of the Commission:

Read the most recent media release about the CCRC:

Next steps in Criminal Cases Review Commission announced [PDF, 126 KB]

Chief Commissioner appointed

Colin Carruthers QC, has been appointed as the Chief Commissioner for a term of 18 months commencing 1 February 2020. Mr Carruthers is one of New Zealand’s most experienced barristers, appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1990.

Short biography on Mr Carruthers [PDF, 34 KB]

Establishment Advisory Group appointed

To support the Chief Commissioner in setting up the Commission, an Establishment Advisory Group has been set up. Its membership includes people from a range of backgrounds who will provide important expertise and different perspectives.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission Establishment Advisory Group includes:

  • Professor Tracey McIntosh
  • Professor Elisabeth McDonald
  • Dr Anna Sandiford
  • Associate Professor Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni
  • Tim McKinnel, and
  • Nigel Hampton CNZM, OBE, QC.

Biographies on members of the Establishment Advisory Group [PDF, 191 KB]

The Establishment Advisory Group's Terms of Reference [PDF, 56 KB]

The CCRC’s office will be based in Hamilton

To enhance the CCRC’s independence and be free from perceived or real political interference it will be based in Hamilton, separate from the judiciary and current justice institutions.

Further information will be made available as this work progresses. 

How to make an application

The Commission won’t be able to receive or investigate applications until it is established on 1 July 2020. In the meantime, if you think there may have been a miscarriage of justice in your case, you can still make an application to the Governor-General for the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy.

Information on the current process

More information on the current process, the Royal prerogative of mercy, can be found at:

The Office of the Governor-General: The Royal prerogative of mercy(external link)

Information about the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill

Read the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill(external link)

Read about how the Bill was passed into law(external link)

Related documents

Regulatory Impact Statement:

Criminal Cases Review Commission [PDF, 497 KB]

Departmental Disclosure Statement:

Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill [PDF, 300 KB]

Proactive released documents


Establishing a Criminal Cases Review Commission [PDF, 298 KB]

Proposed model for establishing a Criminal Cases Review Commission [PDF, 282 KB]

Supplementary advice on the Criminal Cases Review Commission model [PDF, 319 KB]

Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill [PDF, 221 KB]


Criminal Cases Review Commission:  areas for further discussion [PDF, 334 KB]

Cabinet Paper:

Establishing a Criminal Cases Review Commission [PDF, 395 KB]

Legislation Paper:

Criminal Cases Review Commission:  Approval for Introduction [PDF, 223 KB]