Wellington, July 3 NZPA - Private mediators will work with parties in civil disputes under a pilot scheme to be run at the High Court in Auckland.
Justice Minister Simon Power and Courts Minister Georgina te Heuheu said the pilot, starting in November, would allow lengthy mediations.
At present associate judges carry out mediation and the pilot aimed to free them up.
"Reducing the number of full hearings and freeing up judicial time for other matters should lead to faster resolution of disputes, which will be cheaper for the parties and the court," Mr Power said.
"Helping reduce delays in the justice system and backlogs in the court will also help victims gain closure."
A panel of up to 15 mediators who were experienced legal practitioners qualified and experienced in mediation would be set up.
A High Court judge or associate judge would decide if a dispute should be referred for mediation by a private mediator. The agreement of the parties would be required.