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 number
[2021] NZHC 1462
Date of Judgment
18 June 2021
Summary
Fines of $103,500 for dirty dairying are upheld on appeal.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1414
Date of Judgment
17 June 2021
Summary
Interim judgment taking the account between the plaintiff and defendant on the ending of their partnership late last century. Held: The proper law of the partnership was South Africa. Cessation of the partnership's business and accounting activities on or about 18 January 1991 was effective to dissolve the partnership at that time. Result: The partnership's value as a whole at 18 January 1991 was USD 50.895 million, for allocation in equal shares of USD 25.448 million to each the plaintiff and the defendant.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1427
Date of Judgment
16 June 2021
Summary
Application by Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated for judicial review of Minister of Fisheries’ decision in setting total allowable catch, under the Fisheries Act 1996, for East Coast tarakihi in 2019. Forest & Bird advanced six causes of action, and was successful on four causes of action (error of law, failure to consider mandatory relevant consideration, and considering irrelevant consideration), unsuccessful on one cause of action (error of law), and it was unnecessary to consider one cause of action (unreasonableness).
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1354
Date of Judgment
09 June 2021
Summary
Judicial review of Council's decision to non-notify application and grant consent for hotel development where visitor accommodation a permitted activity in tourist zone under District Plan, but development did not, in certain respects, comply with standards for permitted activity.

Whether Council had identified persons potentially affected by proposed development.

Whether Council had failed to make separate notification and substantive consent issues through making decision as to both based on single report.

Whether Council had failed to make necessary determinations through simply comparing effects of proposed development against what would have been the effects of an earlier consented development.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1308
Date of Judgment
04 June 2021
Summary
Claim for defamation. Involves republication of District Court documents the subject of an interim injunction order. The District Court documents formed the basis of defamatory allegations in Parliament. 

Result: The first defendant was found liable in defamation. Plaintiff awarded damages of $350,000 with costs and interest accruing from the date of judgment.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1217
Date of Judgment
27 May 2021
Summary
High Court has held, before amendments to the Sentencing Act in 2018, jurisdiction to make a protection order for the benefit of a child had been excluded. With the 2018 amendment, the exclusion had not been expressly retained but on analysis of the legislative record and the particular legislation, Court was satisfied Parliament intended to retain the exclusion. So, the amended legislation had to be interpreted as if such an exclusion remained. Court accordingly had no power to make the protection order. Alternatively, in the circumstances of this case, where the views of a teenage child as to the making of a protection order were not known, the order should not have been made.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1201
Date of Judgment
27 May 2021
Summary
The Environment Court upheld consents to realign an electricity transmission line across Rangataua Bay in Te Awanui Tauranga (Tauranga Harbour). The High Court overturns that decision on appeal. Ngāti Hē's considered, consistent, and genuine view was that the proposal would have a significant and adverse impact on an area of cultural significance to them and on Māori values of the Outstanding Natural Features and Landscapes of the Bay. It was not open to the Environment Court to conclude otherwise. The Court also erred in adopting an "overall judgment" approach to the Resource Management Act 1991 and in failing to recognise that cultural bottom lines in the planning instruments determine whether the proposal can proceed at all. The Environment Court's decision is quashed. The application is remitted to it for further consideration consistent with the High Court's judgment
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1171
Date of Judgment
25 May 2021
Summary
High Court dismisses appeal against convictions and sentence of 14 years' imprisonment for Mr Charteris' sexual offending against 12 year old boy of family he was a friend to. The Judge had found the victim was an honest and reliable witness. He had rejected Mr Charteris' denials. There was no error in the Judge's determination either separately or in combination sufficient to establish there had been a miscarriage of justice. Sufficient allowance had been made for Mr Charteris' age and health, and that he had no convictions for other offending. The sentence was not manifestly excessive.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1113
Date of Judgment
19 May 2021
Summary
Applicant liquidators/trustees of a trust imposed by the FMA sought directions regarding distribution of client moneys held by Halifax NZ (HNZ) a subsidiary of Halifax Australia (HAU). Both provided investment services to clients and placed in liquidation as there was a shortfall in client funds and investments. Australian based liquidators were appointed to both and applied for directions in both Courts. Joint hearing conducted by VMR. Both Courts hearing/considering same evidence and submissions. Various categories of investors were separately represented. Orders made providing directions to the applicant liquidators/trustees as to distribution of the funds and investments held.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1107
Date of Judgment
18 May 2021
Summary
Applicants sought declarations under s 15 Judicial Review Procedure Act declaring the provisional consent granted for the Pfizer Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine under s 23 Medicines Act was unlawful and vaccine rollout should therefore be halted. Held:  There was a reasonably  arguable case the consent given was ultra vires s 23, because it contemplates provisional consents will be given for a new medicine only where the medicine will be used to treat a limited number of patients-not all New Zealanders over the age of 16. But the public and private repercussions of hindering the country's vaccine rollout strongly militated against making the declarations. Interim ordersdeclined.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1050
Date of Judgment
12 May 2021
Summary
Applicants seek to judicially review decisions of the Minster for Land Information to compulsorily acquire the land at 212-214 Madras Street under the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 (the Act) to make way for the Canterbury Multi­ Use Arena. Applicants sought interim relief under s 15, Judicial Review Procedure Act enjoining the Crown from acquiring title to their property and preventing demolition of the NG building pending determination of the proceeding.
Held: previous interim order should be sustained until the application for judicial review has been determined.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1035
Date of Judgment
11 May 2021
Summary
Maddigan found travelling near Te Anau after being told by Police, first in Queenstown and then at Te Anau, he must return to his home in Christchurch to comply with COVID-19 level 4 lockdown restrictions. Appeal against conviction after a guilty plea to a charge under Civil Defence Emergency Management Act for failing to comply with a Police direction. High Court held directions from the Police were likely reasonable and lawful to limit spread of the epidemic. No abuse by Police in charging Maddigan because of belligerent way he had refused to comply with directions. Judge had not denied Maddigan bail to pressure him into pleading guilty. But, legislation did not allow Judge to deny bail. Maddigan had given up his right to defend the charge, in part, to avoid being remanded in prison. Accordingly, his conviction and fine had to be quashed. Proceedings to go back to the District Court.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1032
Date of Judgment
11 May 2021
Summary
Sentencing-dishonestly using document with intent to obtain pecuniary advantage. Defendant carried out scheme over 4 years to obtain GST refunds by withdrawing and redepositing cash from his bank account and then paid others to create matching fictitious GST invoices claiming he exported large quantities of products allowing him to falsely claim $17.3 million in GST refunds. Starting point of 8 years 6 months adopted. Aggravating factors - length and sophistication of offending, cost to community, and failure to cooperate with authorities. Previous charges for dishonestly using documents too minor to justify uplift. No relevant mitigating factors due to Mr Bracken's ongoing denial of guilt.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1025
Date of Judgment
07 May 2021
Summary
Overlapping applications under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 for customary marine title (CMT) and protected customary rights (PCR) over an area of the takutai moana in the Bay of Plenty.

The Court granted CMT and PCR recognition orders for a number of the applications, and determined a range of legal, tikanga and technical issues under the Act, including that under s 58, holding the area in accordance with tikanga entailed an assessment of tikanga values rather than western property concepts, that the concept of "joint exclusivity" could be applied to the parties in some circumstances, and clarifying what amounted to "substantial interruption".
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 214 KB)
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1022
Date of Judgment
07 May 2021
Summary
Decision on interim control order under s 15 of the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Act 2019. Orders made.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1016
Date of Judgment
07 May 2021
Summary
Mr Webster sentenced to preventive detention  with an MPI of nine years  and five  months  on 30 charges, many representative, of sexual and violence offending against three former partners. Proposed final finite sentence of 18 years and 10 months' imprisonment held to be insufficient to protect community from very high risk of similar offending in the future.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 1006
Date of Judgment
06 May 2021
Summary
Applicant Society seeks to judicially review decisions of Auckland Council to retain Emergency Works carried out on Queen St during Covid-19 pandemic as part of a Pilot and to replace the Emergency Works between Shortland St and Customs St E with further non-permanent works. Applicant sought interim relief under s 15, Judicial Review Procedure Act preventing the Council from undertaking any work (except for removal) in relation to Emergency Works and from installing or constructing  the work between Shortland St and Customs St E pending the hearing of the substantive claim. Held. Applicant  did not satisfy  threshold requirement
Case number
[2021] NZHC 852
Date of Judgment
21 April 2021
Summary
High Court finds decision by Queenstown Lakes District Council to grant long-term lease of Wanaka Airport to Queenstown Airport Company to be unlawful. The lease amounted to a transfer of control of the Airport, which is a strategic asset. The Council had not followed the process required by the Local Government Act for the transfer of control of strategic assets. The consultation process carried out by the Council before granting the lease also did not comply with the Act. The proposal on which the Council consulted did not fairly represent the nature of decision to grant the lease. The Court declared lease to be unlawful and set it aside.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 89 KB)
Case number
[2021] NZHC 743
Date of Judgment
01 April 2021
Summary
Successful application for judicial review by recipient of formal warning from police in relation to uncharged alleged offence of sexual grooming which was then noted on the Police's NIA database. This notation, which can be received following a "police check" by third parties functions similarly to a conviction. Discussion of legal basis for Police to issue formal warnings, when no admission has occurred.

Held: the power to give formal warnings in the absence of an unequivocal admission by an offender is not prescribed by law; declaration given that the decision made by the Police to issue the applicant with the formal/warning in respect of the offence of sexual grooming of individual is unlawful and is set aside.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 675
Date of Judgment
30 March 2021
Summary
Life imprisonment imposed for joint offenders found guilty of murder arising from brutal beating which occurred in Tokomaru Bay in December 2019. Minimum period of imprisonment of 17 years imposed for both defendants. Concurrent imprisonment of four years imposed for one defendant found guilty of arson for setting fire to the victim's body.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 654
Date of Judgment
30 March 2021
Summary
Successful judicial review challenges brought by Mercury NZ Limited, the Raukawa Settlement Trust and the Crown against preliminary determination of the Waitangi Tribunal that lands be returned to Ngāti Kahungunu. The Tribunal erred in directing that land can be returned as a remedy for wider Treaty breaches. The breach needs to concern land in question. The Tribunal also erred in directing that land in the rohe of Raukawa and Ngāti Tuwharetoa should be so returned to Ngāti Kahungunu. This was not consistent with Treaty or tikanga principles. The Tribunal also erred when awarding interest under the statutory compensation scheme.  The Tribunal did not take into account the reasons for the delay in determining the particular claims being addressed as required.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 2.4 MB)