High Court Judgments of Public Interest

 

This page provides access to judgments of the High Court in the last 90 days deemed to be of particular public interest.

More information about finding court judgments is available on the judgments section of this website.

It is the responsibility of users of the information contained in these decisions to ensure compliance with conditions or other legal obligations governing access, release, storage and re-publication. See also the guide on statutory provisions that prohibit publication of certain information in certain circumstances. If in doubt you should consult the court that issued the decision(s). Judicial Decisions are presented in PDF format to preserve the integrity of the documents.

Guide on statutory provisions prohibiting publication


Case number
[2020] NZHC 0
Date of Judgment
02 July 2020
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1503
Date of Judgment
30 June 2020
Summary
Rangitira Development Limited's application for judicial review dismissed. As to the alleged bias of the Minister of Conservation on the grounds of her strong voice against coal mining generally and this mining operation specifically the evidence showed the Minister approached the application with an open mind. For the future, in those unusual cases where there has been a close and adversarial position in relation to the matter now before the minister for decision, the value of maintaining public confidence in the integrity of executive government decision-making might be maintained by having another minister make the decision.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1490
Date of Judgment
30 June 2020
Summary
MT was found unfit to stand trial on charges of kidnapping and murder. This judgment decides her disposition under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003. Reasons are given for a finding under s 10 of the Act as to her causing the acts that constituted those offences. The judgment then considers whether it is necessary for MT to be detained as a special care recipient or whether she be made a care recipient. Analysis of the conflicting opinions of two mental health professionals. 

Held: MT is to be detained as a special care recipient because of factors, including her risk of violent re-offending, making that status necessary in the public interest. Permanent name suppression granted.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1488
Date of Judgment
29 June 2020
Summary
Sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 11 years for murder of a 9 year old boy. The defendant was 15 years old at the time he committed the murder. The defendant was babysitting the victim when he stabbed him three times before leaving the scene. Section 104 of the Sentencing Act 2002 was engaged, requiring consideration of whether it would be manifestly unjust to impose a 17 year minimum period of imprisonment. A discount for youth and early guilty pleas was applied. Considering, in particular, the defendant's youth and the need for rehabilitation and reintegration a minimum term of imprisonment of 11 years was imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1456
Date of Judgment
25 June 2020
Summary
Judicial review challenge to post mosque shooting measures prohibiting categories of ammunition dismissed. The Court accepted the measures engaged the principle that property owners should not be deprived of their property without compensation, but concluded that Parliament had expressly abrogated that right. Challenge to the recommendation not to provide compensation dismissed as decision was made by Parliament and was not reviewable. Challenge to the definition of prohibited ammunition also dismissed - it was permissible to prohibit categories of military ammunition to tighten controls whether or not that ammunition had been demonstrated to be more harmful than conventional ammunition.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 182 KB)
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1379
Date of Judgment
18 June 2020
Summary
Applications to intervene in Borrowdale v Director-General of Health and Attorney-General. Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) and Criminal Bar Association (CBA) declined leave to intervene. Court not satisfied expertise of the CBA will of assistance in considering the relevant issues and nor that ADLS is needed to ensure there is an 'equality of arms'. Court satisfied it will be assisted by submissions from the New Zealand Law Society, given the issues of general and wide importance involved. NZLS granted leave to intervene on conditions.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1356
Date of Judgment
16 June 2020
Summary
Hospice New Zealand sought declarations from the Court answering questions on the scope and application of the End of Life Choice Act 2019, which may come into force depending on the result of the referendum in the 2020 general election. The questions posed for declaratory relief could not be answered in the form they were posed, but the Court granted limited declarations on matters of statutory interpretation which responded to issues raised by Hospice New Zealand.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 200 KB)
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1345
Date of Judgment
16 June 2020
Summary
Application for permanent name suppression by a prominent sportsperson, X. X a connected person to a high profile criminal trial. Application a sequel to (2019] NZHC 1211 and [2019] NZCA 350. High Court accepted circumstances had changed so as to permit a fresh application for permanent name suppression. But, possible undue hardship to the sportsperson still outweighed by the presumption of open reporting and other matters: R v Bhikoo [2017] NZHC 3098; R v Morgan [2019] NZHC 2134; and Re S [2004] UKHL 47, [2005] 1 AC 593. X to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Interim suppression order made as required by s 286 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. Redacted judgment may be published
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1324
Date of Judgment
12 June 2020
Summary
The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand is granted leave to intervene, on conditions, in a challenge to policies and decisions of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation concerning investments in Western Sahara.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1245
Date of Judgment
05 June 2020
Summary
Application for judicial review by Mt Wellington Race Park Club seeking declaration that Auckland Council disposed of a property in contravention of s 138 of Local Government Act 2002. Property in question was Council-owned,but managed and controlled by Auckland Transport. It was designated for a future road, and leased to a karting club. Agreement to lease to commercial tenant, in lieu of the karting club.

Application declined. The property is not a "park" within meaning of s 138. Further, if the property was a "park" the Council had in effect discharged its consultation obligations. If the property was a "park" and Council had failed to discharge its consultation obligations, relief would nevertheless have been declined; the interests of the innocent third party, the prospective commercial tenant, would have prevailed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1188
Date of Judgment
02 June 2020
Summary
Murder sentence.  Mr Te Poona ran a cannabis operation from his shed. His cousin arrived with the deceased.  After the deceased refused to leave Mr Te Poona shot him. Aggravating factors were the close range of the shooting, premeditation, and leaving the deceased alone on the side of the road. Starting point 10 years, 6 months' MPI, uplifted six months for offending on bail. Mitigating factors were socially and economically deprived upbringing, remorse, rehabilitative prospects, and a potential link between offending and mental health issues. Discounts could have totalled 40 per cent. Life imprisonment not manifestly unjust. 10 year-MPI imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1184
Date of Judgment
02 June 2020
Summary
Application for directions as to service and initial orders. The applicant has entered into a scheme of arrangement for the acquisition of all of the applicant's shares, which the respondent has purported to terminate. That termination is the subject of litigation. The Court cannot be satisfied the agreement remains on foot, so there is no jurisdiction to make orders. However, discretion would not have been exercised due to the same uncertainty as well as the fact that if the applicant covets its shareholders' approval for the litigation, it can call a regular meeting to ascertain that approval.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1161
Date of Judgment
29 May 2020
Summary
Manslaughter (single punch) and other violence.  Global starting point of five years and nine months.  Final sentence, three years and eight months.  Prompt guilty pleas and 10 percent discount for prospect of rehabilitation.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1160
Date of Judgment
29 May 2020
Summary
Sentencing for murder charge.  Defendant found guilty by jury of murder after he attempted to strangle his mother, and then attacked her with a hammer.  Pathologist indicated there were at least 10 hammer blows to the head, and defensive wounds on victim's body.

HELD: Sentence of life imprisonment, with MPI of 14 years' imprisonment.  Although s 104 threshold was met, given the brutality of the attack and the vulnerability of the victim, it would have been manifestly unjust to impose an MPI of 17 years because of his autism spectrum disorder, previous good character, and relative youth.
Case name
Case number
[2000] NZHC 1169
Date of Judgment
29 May 2020
Summary
Ms A is sentenced to five years' imprisonment for running someone over and leaving them a tetraplegic.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1119
Date of Judgment
26 May 2020
Summary
Mr Tae is sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He shot Mr Masters, the President of the Killer Bees gang who is now paralysed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1115
Date of Judgment
26 May 2020
Summary
Defendants sentenced to life imprisonment with MPls of 19 years 4 months and 19 years respectively for murder. Defendants had tortured, beaten and hanged a 17-year-old girl. Although Winter was on her second strike, life imprisonment without parole was manifestly unjust given her personal circumstances.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1088
Date of Judgment
22 May 2020
Summary
Defendants' application to strike out class action brought for 3,639 subscribers for Feltex shares in 2004. Claimants in default of order for security for costs for stage two of proceeding for 10 months and unprepared for fixtures allocated in November 2019 and May 2020. Defendants raised concerns at misleading content of crowd funding offer issued by funder to raise the amount needed. Held: proceeding to be struck out unless security for costs and confirmation of resources to complete stage two are provided by 13 July 2020. Potentially misleading content of crowd funding offer considered, and offeror directed to copy judgment to those who have been sent or had access to the offer. 
Case number
[2020] NZHC 0
Date of Judgment
21 May 2020
Case number
[2020] NZHC 0
Date of Judgment
19 May 2020
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1029
Date of Judgment
18 May 2020
Summary
Media company NZME and Nine Entertainment (the ultimate owner of the Stuff group of media companies) were in negotiations regarding a possible acquisition of Stuff by NZME.  On 22 April 2020 they agreed a two week due diligence period during which Nine would not engage in negotiations with other parties, and would give NZME matching rights for any competing proposals received ("the exclusivity agreement").  On 6 May 2020, before the exclusivity period had come to an end, Nine received a competing offer.  It subsequently terminated negotiations with NZME and commenced negotiations with the competing bidder.  NZME sought an injunction to enforce the terms of the exclusivity agreement.  Nine argued that the agreement had been frustrated and come to an end, due to various external developments (political and regulatory).

HELD: Application dismissed.  Damages unlikely to be an adequate remedy for either party.  Balance of convenience factors, however, as well as the public interest and interests of third parties, weighed against making the interim orders sought.  Damages potentially suffered by NZME for loss of chance to match the competing offer, in circumstances where there appeared to be little or no prospect of NZME being able to do so (given the need for NZME to obtain Commerce Commission clearance) are likely to be modest.  Damages suffered by Nine, in the event that delay resulted in (or contributed to) the failure of negotiations with the competing bidder, could be significant.  In addition, the public interest in maintaining robust competition in the media marketplace and the interests of third parties, including Stuff's employees, weighed against granting an injunction.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 966
Date of Judgment
12 May 2020
Summary
Defendant pleaded guilty to being a party to motor manslaughter. Starting point of four years and six months’ imprisonment adopted. Discounts applied for remorse, previous good character, additional hardship of serving sentence outside home country, and guilty plea. End sentence of two years and one month imprisonment imposed, and an order for the payment of reparation for emotional harm of $40,000.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 964
Date of Judgment
12 May 2020
Summary
Sentencing on one charge of corruptly accepting a bribe. The defendant worked for Auckland Council in procurement. He encouraged a friend to provide a quotation and then failed to advise Council management he had received lower offers. He then obtained payment of $7,500 for facilitating the award of the contract to his friend. Starting point 18 months imprisonment, end sentence 5.5 months home detention after reductions for guilty plea and other mitigating factors.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 948
Date of Judgment
08 May 2020
Summary
Appeal against sentence of four years’ imprisonment for various offences including theft of property from tourists’ vehicles and courier vans.  Whether there should have been some reduction because of challenges faced by appellant through being deported from Australia.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 918
Date of Judgment
06 May 2020
Summary
There was no contract between Electrix Ltd and Fletcher Construction Ltd for the electrical services works in the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct project. But Fletcher Construction requested and Electrix provided the services, without a detailed design. Fletcher Construction paid Electrix $21.6 million. Fletcher Construction must pay Electrix another $7.5 million (approx.) plus interest for the reasonable costs of the services Electrix provided - the "amount deserved" or "quantum meruit".
Case number
[2020] NZHC 906
Date of Judgment
05 May 2020
Summary
Investors in a Ponzi scheme operated by David Ross have brought a claim against ANZ Bank for their losses. David Ross operated the scheme through Ross Asset Management (RAM) and related entities through accounts held with ANZ Bank. ANZ applied to strike out the claims as not being reasonable arguable. Held: the claims were reasonably arguable. Strike out application dismissed.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 189 KB)
Case number
[2020] NZHC 905
Date of Judgment
05 May 2020
Summary
Application for extension of time to appeal against dog destruction order, where the dog in question was found to have attacked a domestic animal. Leave granted. In considering the substantive appeal, the Court held: appeal dismissed; application to adduce appellant's affidavit declined; the circumstances of the attack were not exceptional, so as to not warrant the dog's destruction.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 887
Date of Judgment
04 May 2020
Summary
REASONS: Application for judicial review of  decisions made under framework referenced in Health Act (Managed Air Arrivals) Order. Decisions refusing permission for applicant to leave the mandatory 14 day isolation period to attend to his gravely ill father at his father’s home. The medical prognosis was that death was imminent (1-3 days). The applicant had no symptoms and his health had been assessed every two days but test for COVID-19 refused because asymptomatic.  The grounds of review were error of law, failure to consider mandatory considerations and unreasonableness. Urgent interim relief sought. The respondent acknowledged that on the face of the documentary record one of the grounds of review could be made out so decision was being reconsidered urgently. Their opposition centred on the making of an interim-order on the basis there was no jurisdiction to grant interim relief under s 15 of the Judicial Review Procedure Act, and that relief was not necessary to preserve the position of the applicant when orders sought would effectively determine substantive outcome. HELD: Adjournment refused because of urgency of situation and opportunities already afforded to respondent to revisit decision. Interim relief granted with conditions to minimise public safety risk (including as to direction requiring respondent to stipulate any additional conditions) given imminent death. It was necessary and overall justice supported  ability to grant effective relief because of strength of claim that decision-makers had erroneously based decision on the narrow criteria in the “framework” on government website rather than exercising discretion. Interim orders could be granted under s 15 as they preserved the position the claimant would have been in had the correct criteria been taken into account.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 884
Date of Judgment
01 May 2020
Summary
Sentencing for Tranter following his conviction by jury trial of motor manslaughter  and after he pleaded guilty to a charge of driving with excess blood alcohol. Aggravating features of the offending were the defendant's alcohol levels, speed; deliberate dangerous and aggressive driving; the poor state of his car; the fact he was filming himself;previous convictions for similar offending and behaviour following the crash. Starting point set at seven years, uplifted for criminal history and behaviour following the crash. No reduction for personal circumstances. End sentence is eight years and three months. 6 year disqualification from driving set.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 883
Date of Judgment
01 May 2020
Summary
RESULTS: Application for judicial review of  decisions made under framework referenced in Health Act (Managed Air Arrivals) Order. Decisions refusing permission for applicant to leave the mandatory 14 day isolation period to attend to his gravely ill father at his father’s home. The medical prognosis was that death was imminent (1-3 days). The applicant had no symptoms and his health had been assessed every two days but test for COVID-19 refused because asymptomatic.  The grounds of review were error of law, failure to consider mandatory considerations and unreasonableness. Urgent interim relief sought. The respondent acknowledged that on the face of the documentary record one of the grounds of review could be made out so decision was being reconsidered urgently. Their opposition centred on the making of an interim-order on the basis there was no jurisdiction to grant interim relief under s 15 of the Judicial Review Procedure Act, and that relief was not necessary to preserve the position of the applicant when orders sought would effectively determine substantive outcome. HELD: Adjournment refused because of urgency of situation and opportunities already afforded to respondent to revisit decision. Interim relief granted with conditions to minimise public safety risk (including as to direction requiring respondent to stipulate any additional conditions) given imminent death. It was necessary and overall justice supported  ability to grant effective relief because of strength of claim that decision-makers had erroneously based decision on the narrow criteria in the “framework” on government website rather than exercising discretion. Interim orders could be granted under s 15 as they preserved the position the claimant would have been in had the correct criteria been taken into account.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 850
Date of Judgment
30 April 2020
Summary
Following community consultation on aquatic facilities for Napier, Napier City Council (NCC) investigated the community preference for redevelopment of the Onekawa facility and building a 50m pool there. Reports on the risks and costs of pursuing that option led NCC to take it off the table. An alternative site at Prebensen Drive was identified as being significantly less costly.The applicant challenged NCC’s processes in adopting its Long Term Plan and in deciding to locate an aquatic centre at Prebensen Drive. All grounds of review were dismissed.  In particular, the Council did not have to engage in a pre-consultation step in order to select the options for consultation.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 814
Date of Judgment
24 April 2020
Summary
Application for a writ of habeas corpus. Application declined
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 796
Date of Judgment
23 April 2020
Summary
Application for a writ of habeas corpus. Application declined.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 761
Date of Judgment
20 April 2020
Summary
The Rt Hon Winston Peters claimed his privacy had been breached by Ms Bennett and Ms Tolley, Ministers in the last Government and by Mr Hughes, the State Services Commissioner, Mr Boyle the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and MSD. Mr Peters had applied for and been granted NZ Superannuation (NZS). He was paid at the single rate. Subsequently when his partner applied for NZS the MSD reviewed Mr Peters' file. An MSD officer met with Mr Peters in July 2017. It was agreed Mr Peters had been overpaid NZS as he was not single and had a partner at the time he was granted NZS. Mr Peters immediately arranged for the overpayment to be repaid.
In the meantime Mr Boyle had advised SSC of the investigation into Mr Peters' NZS. Mr Boyle advised his Minister, Ms Tolley. Mr Hughes advised his Minister Ms Bennett. On 26 August 2017, less than a month out from the general election, Mr Peters was contacted by a journalist who obviously knew details of the overpayment and the investigation by MSD. Mr Peters issued a press statement the next day to mitigate personal and political damage. Mr Peters subsequently commenced these proceedings. Held: Mr Peters had a reasonable expectation that the details of the payment irregularity would be kept private and not disclosed to parties who did not have a genuine need to know about it or a proper interest in knowing about it. In particular, he had a reasonable expectation that the details of the payment irregularity would not be disclosed to the media.
The deliberate disclosure of details of the payment irregularity to the media would be regarded as highly offensive to an objective reasonable person. Mr Peters claims against the defendants failed. He was not able to establish they were responsible for the disclosure of the payment irregularity to the media. Mr Peters' counsel conceded in closing that neither Ms Bennett nor Ms Tolley was directly responsible for the disclosure. The disclosure by Mr Boyle to the SSC and by both Messrs Hughes and Boyle to their Ministers were for a proper purpose and the Ministers had a genuine interest in knowing the details of the payment irregularity. The plaintiff was unable to rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to make out a claim against any of the defendants. Mr Peters' claims for damages and declarations were dismissed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 728
Date of Judgment
08 April 2020
Summary
Liquidation of Cryptopia, a company operating a cryptocurrency exchange. Application by liquidators for directions as to how to distribute company’s assets, including cryptoassets. Whether cryptocurrencies “property” in terms of Companies Act 1993. Whether cryptocurrencies held on trust by company for accountholders.
Held:
1. All of the cryptocurrencies constitute “property” under the Companies Act.
2. The cryptocurrencies are held on express trust by Cryptopia for the accountholders as beneficiaries. A separate trust exists for each type of cryptocurrrency.
3. If the liquidators are unable to identify any particular accountholder, the process prescribed by s 76 Trustee Act 1956 should be followed.
4. To the extent the liquidators recover stolen digital assets, they are to be dealt with pro rata within each specific trust according to the amounts recovered assessed against the amounts stolen.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 154 KB)
Case number
[2020] NZHC 706
Date of Judgment
08 April 2020
Summary
The High Court has dismissed the appeal of Phillip Arps against special conditions which the District Court imposed on his release from prison. The appellant, after the Christchurch Mosque murders, had distributed objectionable publications, containing video footage of the murders edited to include crosshairs and a kill-count. The High Court found the conditions as to non-contact with members of the Muslim community, GPS monitoring and non-possession of firearms to be necessary and proportionate.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 704
Date of Judgment
07 April 2020
Summary
Successful urgent application by EPA to stay Environment Court decision staying abatement notice. Notice prevented oil mining vessel from disconnecting from pipes and leaving New Zealand . Stay granted by the EC allowed disconnection to proceed. HC identified potential legal errors by EC: it did not consider when a notice could be issued for change in circumstances notwithstanding earlier decision; undue focus on legal ownership; risks of vessel being required to stay potentially overstated; and it could not safely conclude that disconnection would be risk neutral. Significant change in circumstances meant that a notice could be issued to allow fuller assessment of potential adverse effects.