Prepare for hearing
To prepare for a hearing, the matters to be worked through include the order in which claimant groups are to be heard, where hearings are to be held, and the arrangements to be made for each hearing venue. The presiding officer of an inquiry (often a Judge of the Māori Land Court) is also likely to hold conferences of parties to settle some of these planning matters, in particular before hearings begin.
How a claim may participate in an inquiry – aggregation and consolidation
Depending on a claim’s issues it may be aggregated or consolidated into an inquiry. If it is consolidated all of the claim is heard in the inquiry. If it is aggregated, only part of the claim is heard in the inquiry. An aggregated claim may participate in a number of inquiries.
Research - the casebook method
Tribunal inquiries generally follow the casebook method. This involves planning, as far as is possible, the research that will be required in the inquiry and completing that research before hearings start. The completed research, together with other documentary evidence, is collectively known as a 'casebook'. The research reports and other casebook evidence are entered on the record of inquiry and distributed to the Crown and all claimants participating in the inquiry.
The Tribunal tries to hear claimant groups at the venue of their choice and according to their protocols, where that is desired.
Usually, claimant groups are heard on their marae. When the Tribunal hears the Crown and others who are entitled to be heard, it often moves to a neutral venue (such as a public hall or a conference centre).
In all cases, however, the Tribunal must be satisfied that a proposed venue is suitable for its needs and that it meets certain health and safety requirements. Accordingly, the Tribunal makes the ultimate decision as to where it sits.
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