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 (PDF, 211 KB). 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.

 

Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3608
Date of Judgment
22 December 2021
Summary
Following the collapse of the RAM Ponzi scheme, three representative plaintiffs brought a claim against ANZ Bank on behalf of 552 investors for knowing receipt, dishonest assistance and negligence. The claim was settled and the Litigation Committee sought the Court's approval of their methodology to distribute the settlement funds to the investors. The methodology involved classifying claimants as Class A or B or both in relation to the dishonest assistance claim. Three of the claimants put objections to the methodology before the Court. Held: The 75/25 per cent weightings given to the Class A and B dishonest assistance claims respectively was outside the available range and the weighting was adjusted to 67/33 per cent.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3599
Date of Judgment
22 December 2021
Summary
Successful application for orders under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act in Hawke's Bay. Customary marine title over he takutai moana was awarded to four applicants: Ngāti Pāhauwera, the Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust, Ngāi Tahu ō Mōhaka-Waikare, and Ngāti Pārau. The title was awarded jointly in some areas, and exclusively in others. Three of these applicants were also awarded protected customary rights. The Court clarified a number of novel legal and tikanga issues under the Act, including the scope of wāhi ltapu conditions in customary marine title, when customary marine title is extinguished in river mouths within the takutai moana and issues of extinguishment. Exact boundaries of the customary marine titles to be determined at Stage 2 hearing in May 2022.
Media Release
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3157
Date of Judgment
17 December 2021
Summary
Judicial review challenging Marlborough 2020 Freedom Camping Bylaw due to blanket default prohibition on freedom camping unless permitted by reference to site description. Unlawful due to failure to consult, made contrary to provisions of the Act and bylaw unlawful under Bylaws Act. On decision papers not apparent nor able to be inferred that the Council turned its mind to the required matters before imposing a districtwide default prohibition on freedom camping. Relief following further submissions.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3498
Date of Judgment
16 December 2021
Summary
Sentencing of two offenders on kidnapping and violence charges related to their roles in gang group kidnapping, assault and detention of victim for 12-hour period. Starting points of 10 and 5 years' imprisonment for Mr Tregidga and Mr Keni respectively. Both afforded 15% guilty plea discounts and personal mitigating features discounts of 25 and 30% respectively (Mr Keni receives additional reduction of three months for EM bail). Sentence for Mr Tregidga of three years with 50% MPI and 2.5 years for Mr Keni.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3484
Date of Judgment
16 December 2021
Summary
Sentencing following guilty plea to four charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and one charge of indecent assault - victim aged 17 years. Offending falls in band 2 -  aggravating features  present in offending: scale of the offending and degree of violation; harm to the victim; and vulnerability of the victim. Starting point 6 years' imprisonment. Personal aggravating and mitigating factors: for prior sexual offending convictions - uplift of 12 months' imprisonment; for guilty plea, a discount of 15% - a discrete discount or age and ill health not appropriate given the circumstances, starting point, uplift and discount adopted. Finite sentence would be 6 years 1 month's imprisonment. But finite sentence and extended supervision order may well not provide adequate protection to community despite health issues. Sentence of preventive detention with a minimum period of imprisonment of 5 years on the lead charges of sexual violation; and 2 years concurrent imprisonment on charge of indecent assault.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3465
Date of Judgment
16 December 2021
Summary
Eleven and a half year prison sentence for offences of attempted murder and manslaughter. Defendant attempted to kill his former wife; he ran down her colleague. Global starting point of 13 years, nine months mitigated by 16 percent following trial.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3420
Date of Judgment
13 December 2021
Summary
A claim by the Crown for costs against the Four Midwives, NZDSOS and NZTSOS is declined by the High Court because the applicants acted reasonably in the way they pursued their proceedings.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3394
Date of Judgment
10 December 2021
Summary
Sentencing — murder of police constable and attempted murder of another police constable. The murder was a second strike offence. Defendant was 24 years at the time. The Court accepted it would be manifestly unjust to sentence defendant to life without parole. Life imprisonment with an MPl of 27 years for the murder, 12 years' imprisonment for the attempted murder, one year's imprisonment for charge of dangerous driving causing injury.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3367
Date of Judgment
10 December 2021
Summary
Defendant sentenced after pleading guilty to murder of co-worker. Defendant and victim were managers at sex establishment. Defendant struck victim's head at least 10 times, including with a wooden pole, using substantial force. When victim was lying on the ground, defendant put a bag over victim's upper body to prevent blood spilling, moved victim and other items to a sleep-out, and did not seek medical assistance. Disputed facts hearing - found that Crown had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that defendant intended to kill. Section 104(e) high level of brutality/callousness not engaged by small margin. Starting MPI of 16 years' imprisonment. 1 year discount for guilty plea. No previous convictions. 6 month discount for defendant's dislocation from family support and culture, age (61) and health issue. No separate remorse discount. HELD: Life imprisonment with MPI of 14 and a half years.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3387
Date of Judgment
09 December 2021
Summary
Defendant sentenced for the murder of a fellow prison inmate. Presumption of life imprisonment without parole applies because the murder was a stage two offence. Presumption displaced because life imprisonment without parole would be manifestly unjust. Section 104 factors engaged requiring a minimum MPI of 17 years unless manifestly unjust. Provisional MPI of 19 years uplifted for criminal history and offending in prison by three years. Two years discounted for guilty plea and personal circumstances. MPI of 20 years imposed to be served concurrently with current MPI and sentence.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3363
Date of Judgment
09 December 2021
Summary
Unsuccessful appeal against conviction and sentence pursuant to s 57(2) of the Dog Control Act 1996 after appellants' dog attacked two domestic animals. District Court Judge imposed a fine of $750 and ordered that the appellants make emotional harm payments of $150 to each victim of the offending; order also made under s 57(3) for destruction of the dog.

Held: Judge had not erred in treating the offence as a strict liability offence and factual disputes raised by the appellants were not supported by the evidence. Conviction appeal dismissed. Sentence upheld as within range.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3357
Date of Judgment
08 December 2021
Summary
Sentencing on charge of murder following guilty verdict at trial.

Held: a sentence of life imprisonment is not manifestly unjust. Starting MPI set at 11 years 9 months' uplifted by six months for perverting course of justice charge. Aggravating features of the murder charge include use of knife, sustained and unlawful presence at the house, and the serious harm caused. 10 per cent discount for personal circumstances. End sentence: Life imprisonment with an MPI of 11 years.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3354
Date of Judgment
08 December 2021
Summary
Manslaughter sentencing for defendant found guilty of failing to provide her husband, a vulnerable adult, with the necessaries of life thereby causing his death (Crimes Act 1961, ss 150A, 151, 160(2)(b) and 171). Defendant had been in charge of caring for her seriously ill husband; she neglected to do so, leading to his death from sepsis as a result of infected pressure sores. 

Held: Defendant's culpability was high and offending was serious offending of its kind, though not as serious as R v Taylor [2016] NZHC 2846 (upheld in Taylor v R [2017] NZCA 574). Starting point of 8 years' imprisonment adopted taking into account aggravating and mitigating features of the off ending. Discounts given for defendant's mitigating personal circumstances . Reductions applied of 10% for prior good character, 10% for likely hardship in prison, and 10% for remorse . No discount given for defendant's lengthy time on bail pending trial. 

End sentence imposed of 5 years and 7 months' imprisonment. No minimum term of imprisonment necessary.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3327
Date of Judgment
07 December 2021
Summary
Sentencing of 19 year old for manslaughter (committed when the defendant was 18 years old).  Single stab wound to chest with knife carried concealed at a party.  Starting point seven years.  Discounts: 25% for guilty pleas, 10% for mental health and 5% for youth. Discounts refused for remorse, s 27 rpeort, co-operation with authorities and failure by authorities to implement 2017 mental health report recommendations. Minimum period of imprisonment of 50%. Final sentence: 4 years and 2 months imprisonment.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3319
Date of Judgment
06 December 2021
Summary
Judicial review by Maori health provider Te Pou Matakana/Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency of Ministry of Health decision not to provide individual data of unvaccinated Maori, to enable targeted delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations. Court upheld all grounds of review, finding Ministry: erred in fact and law in assessment of whether disclosure of the data was necessary under r 11(2)(d) of Health Information Privacy Code 2020; breached the applicants' right to natural justice through its consultation process; and acted inconsistently. Ministry directed to complete its consideration of provision of data in areas where it has not yet agreed to provide data, having regard to findings in judgment.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3309
Date of Judgment
03 December 2021
Summary
Claim in nuisance, declaration and permanent injunction sought in relation to the plaintiff accessing, to repair, a buckle in a major gas pipeline that runs onto the defendants' land.
Held: plaintiff is entitled to access and use the land to the extent prescribed purpose under the relevant legislation and instruments, including the repair of the pipeline and necessarily incidental acts. No arrangement or agreement, nor any  previous court decision, require a collaborative process  with the defendants  as a condition to the plaintiff's rights and  powers to access and  use the land  for the prescribed  purposes. No legislative or other requirements affect the  plaintiff's right of access and use of land  relating to repairing or carrying out other authorised works on the pipeline.
Declaration and permanent injunction giving effect to the findings granted.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3295
Date of Judgment
03 December 2021
Summary
Defendant sentenced for manslaughter and injuring with intent to injure  in relation to two fellow prison inmates. Starting point of 9 years for the lead manslaughter charge uplifted by 12 months for the injuring charge and 3 months for criminal record and offending subject to sentence. Discounts of 10% for youth, 20% for cultural reasons and 5% for remorse and rehabilitative prospects. Sentence of 6 years 8 months adjusted for totality to 4 years to be served cumulatively on the sentence currently being served.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3286
Date of Judgment
02 December 2021
Summary
Sentencing of Dilworth School Chaplain on 15 historical sex offence charges against 14 complainants (sexual violation by unlawful sexual connections; indecency with a boy under 12; indecency with a boy aged between 12 and 16; indecent assault on a boy).

Sentenced on historical principles; if sentenced according to contemporary principles, sentence would be greater.  Sexual violation lead charge, four year starting point.  Six year additional charges uplift.  Discounts of 25% for guilty plea, 5% for health/disability and 5% for restorative justice.  12 month concurrent sentence on objectionable material charge.  End sentence six years six months.  Placement on Child Sex Offender Register.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3252
Date of Judgment
01 December 2021
Summary
The High Court ordered the Commissioner of Police to give an undertaking to meet any losses caused by Proceeds of Crime restraining orders on properties of the Salters Cartage Ltd business. The Commissioner of Police applies for a stay of that order, pending his appeal to the Court of Appeal. The High Court declines the application because the interests of justice favour the Commissioner, rather Salters , bearing that risk for that period
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3168
Date of Judgment
24 November 2021
Summary
Dr Bailey's application for interim orders to stop a Medical Council disciplinary process is declined on the basis of the balance of convenience and interests of justice
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3154
Date of Judgment
22 November 2021
Summary
Successful judicial review by wider members of families associated with the New Zealand Defence Force seeking to flee Afghanistan to join their family here.COVID-19 border closure did not provide reason to refuse visas. Long-standing visa applications could not be refused for that reason. Act required applications to be assessed in accordance with instructions in effect when visa applications made.Applicants would have the same rights to enter New Zealand as any other residents once visas granted. Further errors in failing to apply humanitarian exceptions which applied to those in the position of the applicants. Immigration New Zealand directed to reconsider the grant of visas in accordance with law.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3096
Date of Judgment
18 November 2021
Summary
Civil claims following 1st defendant's sentencing for theft and deception regarding selling property (vintage aircraft and parts): unauthorised actions, use of employer's property and exposing the employer to liability.

Held: causes of action (COA) 1 to 4; breached specific fiduciary duties selling an aircraft as agent to third party by unauthorised profiting and accruing benefits by retaining funds; equitable tracing claim for Corsair aircraft dismissed, but equitable charge by subrogation ordered (of $720,000). COA 5-7, 9-10, 13-18:5th-7th, 9th-10th: various breaches of contract, agency, employee duties made out; claim for secret commission dismissed. Damages in excess of $2.6m together with interest were awarded.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3082
Date of Judgment
16 November 2021
Summary
Damages and costs. Mr Craig partly successful in defamation against Ms MacGregor and Ms MacGregor partly successful in defamation against Mr Craig. Mr Craig sought only declaration, which was granted; costs under s 24 of the Defamation Act 1992 reserved. Ms MacGregor sought compensatory damages and punitive damages. Damages awarded to Ms MacGregor in sum of $400,000. Punitive damages not available in this case. Both parties had some success on their claims. Mr Craig entitled to reasonable disbursements under s 24 adjusted to reflect limited success. Ms MacGregor entitled to 2B costs on successful counterclaim and by approximation 50 per cent of scale costs attributed to counterclaim.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3071
Date of Judgment
12 November 2021
Summary
NZDSOS and NZTSOS challenge the order requiring health and medical practitioners to be vaccinated in order to continue to work. They apply for interim orders preserving their position, which will be heard on 22 November 2021. Until then, they apply for interim interim orders preserving their position. That application is declined on the basis the merits of the argument are not likely to be particularly strong, and the balance of convenience does not favour interim interim orders for the next week.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3064
Date of Judgment
12 November 2021
Summary
Four midwives, NZDSOS and NZTSOS challenge the order requiring them to be vaccinated against COVID-19. They argue the order is not legally valid because the Act does not empower it to be made, if interpreted consistently with the right to refuse medical treatment under the Bill of Rights and the principle of legality. A second cause of action of NZDSOS and NZTSOS, that the Order is invalid because it is not a reasonable and justified limit on the right under s 5 of the Bill of Rights, has yet to be heard.

The words of the Act encompass the power to require a person not to associate with others unless vaccinated, and to be vaccinated in order to engage in an activity. Interpreting the empowering provision in light of its purpose and context does not detract from that. The right to refuse to undergo medical treatment under s 11 of the Bill of Rights is engaged here. No order can be made under the empowering provision that limits the right unless it is reasonable, prescribed by law and can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s 5 of the Bill of Rights. In this case, the applicants do not argue the Order is an unjustified limit. The Bill of Rights does not require the usual purposive interpretation of empowering provision to be narrowed to mean that the Order is outside its scope. Indeed, the text of the Act explicitly indicates that Parliament envisaged that orders may be made which limit rights under the Bill of Rights, as long as the limits are justified under s 5. The common law principle of legality, which requires legislative limitations on fundamental rights to be clearly expressed, does not require a different interpretation.

The application is declined. The four midwives are anonymised in the judgment and their court file is not to be searched without permission of a Judge, for three years, to preserve their effective exercise of the right of access to justice, in light of concerns for them and their family members deriving from current social division.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3012
Date of Judgment
08 November 2021
Summary
Challenge to Order requiring Aviation Security Service employees to be vaccinated dismissed. Order was within empowering provision notwithstanding the provision made no reference to vaccination as it helped to minimise the risk of outbreak or spread of COVID-19. Order limited the applicants rights to refuse to undergo medical treatment, but this was demonstrably justified under the Bill of Rights as vaccination contributed to minimising the risk of outbreak or spread. The Minister had not failed to take into account relevant considerations, or made an irrational decision. The Court commented on the desirability of vaccination mandates being addressed by primary legislation.
Media Release
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2942
Date of Judgment
01 November 2021
Summary
Māori health provider Te Pou Matakana/Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency sought judicial review of Ministry of Health decision not to provide individual data of unvaccinated Māori, to enable targeted delivery of COVID-19 vaccination services.
Court upheld two grounds: Ministry incorrectly applied rule 11(2)(d) of Health Information Privacy Code 2020, in particular it applied the wrong test as to whether disclosure of the information was necessary; and WOCA had a legitimate expectation that the Ministry's decision would be made in accordance with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, informed by tikanga, but it was not.

Ministry's decision set aside and Ministry directed to remake decision .
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2451
Date of Judgment
20 September 2021
Summary
A decision providing detailed reasons as to the Court's powers to supervise communications between the defendant (Southern Response) and the class members.
Media Release