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Last revised 22 September 2020

Submission deadline extended for costs for litigants-in-person consultation

Submissions are now due at 5:00 pm on 30 October 2020 on the Committee's initial consultation regarding lay litigants' costs. This has been extended from 2 September 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Please see the project page for further information on this consultation process.

Work continues on improving access to civil justice

The Committee's signficiant work programme examining how access to civil jusitce in the District and High Courts has reached a significant milestone with the conclusion of the initial consultation process.  Details of this initial consultation process are available on the project page.  Over 400 pages of submissions were received from several dozen members of the legal profession, academics, representatives of community organisations, and members of the wider community.

The Committee is currently formulating its response to the submissions received, and intends to publish a report setting out its response once this is determined.

It is the Committee's intention to publish copies of the submissions received once appropriate redactions are made to protect privacy interests.

Any person interested in obtaining more information should consult the minutes from previous meetings under "Committee Minutes".

High Court Amendment Rules 2020 promulgated

The High Court Amendment Rules 2020 have been promulgated and notified in the Gazette and will come into force from 24 July 2020.

These amendment Rules make a number of minor technical changes to the Rules, mainly aimed at avoiding ambiguities the Rules Committee has found over the last nine months and correcting errors.  Please see the explanatory note to the Amendment Rules for further information.

Contempt of Court Amendment Rules promulgated

The High Court (Contempt of Court) Amendment Rules 2020 and District Court (Contempt of Court) Amendment Rules 2020 have been promulgated and notified in the Gazette and will come into force from 26 August 2020. 

These amendment rules implement the Contempt of Court Act 2019, which comes into force from that same day, in the civil jurisidctions of the High Court and District Court.  Please see the explanatory note to the Amendment Rules for further information.


High Court (COVID-19 Preparedness) Amendment Rules 2020 now in effect

The High Court Rules 2016 have been amended to ensure that civil justice remains accessible during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Committee has worked with the Ministry of Justice, the profession, and the judiciary to achieve this, and have produced a summary of key provisions.


Costs for lay-litigants

Following the Supreme Court's decision in McGuire v Secretary for Justice [2018] NZSC 116, the Committee is considering whether to promote rules reform abrogating the "primary rule" preventing litigants in person and, if so, what alternative measures should be introduced. 

Alternatively, the Committee is considering whether the exceptions to that rule, allowing costs recovery by lawyers appearing in person, should be abrogated.

The Committee has now released its consultation paper on the topic.  Submissions are due in September 2020.

Representative proceedings (suspended)

The Rules Committee has completed consideration of the responses it has received to the consultation on representative proceedings, which concluded on 16 November 2018. A copy of the consultation paper can be found here.

The Committee's focus is on crafting rules that clarify and formalise the procedure for commencing and defending a representative proceeding.  With the Law Commission having reactivated its work in this area in May 2019, the Committee has avoided adopting any reforms that could be considered to change the law or policy governing representative proceedings.

Draft amendment rules have been agreed in principle by the Committee.  

Work on this area has been suspended following the Court of Appeal's decision in Ross v Southern Response [2019] NZCA 431, which significantly amended the common law position regarding representative proceedings. Because the Committee has determined not to change the law governing such proceedings, the Committee has suspended work in this area pending the final disposition of any appeal from that decision.  The Committee will then review the present draft rules to ensure they align with the decision in Ross.

Time allocations and daily recovery rates

The Committee completed consideration of the responses it received to its consultation on time allocations and daily recovery rates in March 2019. Based on final changes made at the Committee's meeting of 18 March 2019, the High Court Amendment Rules 2019 were approved in June 2019, and came into effect on 1 August 2019. The Amendment Rules amended schedules 2 and 3 to the High Court Rules 2016 in order to amend the costs regime, and made a number of other changes to the High Court Rules.