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
[2022] NZHC 1517
Date of Judgment
29 June 2022
Summary
Criminal law - sentencing - defendant pleads guilty to five charges of dangerous driving causing death - maximum penalty 10 years' imprisonment (increased from 5 years in 2011).

HELD: sentenced to two years six months' imprisonment - disqualified from driving for five years - credit allowed in sentence for guilty pleas, youth and cognitive deficits, remorse and good character.
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1444
Date of Judgment
20 June 2022
Summary
Manawa Energy Ltd (formerly Trustpower Ltd) challenged the 2020 decision by the Electricity Authority to make guidelines for Transpower to develop electricity transmission pricing methodology. The challenge was supported by NZSteel Ltd, Nova Energy Ltd and Fonterra Co-Operative Group Ltd and opposed by the Authority and by Meridian Energy Ltd. 

The High Court holds that the challenge fails. The Authority did not err in its interpretation of its statutory objective or role. There is no evidence the Authority's decision was biased or pre-determined. The Authority's use of cost-benefit analysis was not unlawful. Its decision on the residual challenge is not unlawful. Overall the challenges largely reflect the challengers' disagreement with the Decision and seek to draw the Court into the economic merits of the decision. But is the Authority's role, not the Court's to assess the merits of the competing policy arguments.
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1355
Date of Judgment
17 June 2022
Summary
An adjournment has been granted in the trial R v Benbow. A new trial date has been allocated commencing 13 February 2023.
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1407
Date of Judgment
15 June 2022
Summary
Declaratory relief following substantive judgment.
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1387
Date of Judgment
14 June 2022
Summary
Mr Akash murdered his pregnant girlfriend by stabbing and wounding her 30 times with a knife.Common ground offending engaged s 104(1)(e) of the Sentencing Act 2002: high level of brutality, cruelty, depravity or callousness. Defendant mentally unwell at the time, albeit defence of insanity rejected at trial. HELD: 18-year minimum period reduced by three years because of ill mental health. Other mundane factors not afforded discount. HELD: 17-year minimum would be manifestly unjust because defendant was seriously unwell at the time of the offence. 15-year minimum period imposed.
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1339
Date of Judgment
08 June 2022
Summary
The defendant has applied for renewed interim name suppression. The defendant along with one other, is facing manslaughter charges. The defendant seeks name suppression on the grounds of extreme hardship for herself and undue hardship for her family. Thus far the defendant, her family and her employer have received through social media vituperative comments and threats over the defendant's alleged role in the manslaughter. HELD: Application for renewed name suppression is not granted. Although the comments and threats hat the defendant and those connected to her have received are deplorable, they do not meet the relevant thresholds of hardship for suppression to be granted. The Court held that allowing the publication of accounts and reports of the proceedings would likely not worsen the situation because the negative social media activity is already occurring. The Court has limited ability to control the discourse on social media and continuing suppression will not assist in this endeavour.
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1338
Date of Judgment
08 June 2022
Summary
Judicial review - interim orders - application to suspend work on cycleway pending substantive challenge - delay of three months - enable grounds of challenge including the power being used to build the cycleway - suspension orders made.
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1320
Date of Judgment
07 June 2022
Summary
Defendant entered the home of her former husband in the early hours of the morning. Put gas cannisters by the bed, then attacked the newpartner with a knife. Repeatedly stabbed her. Victim required surgery. Five year, three month term of imprisonment for wounding with intent to cause grievious bodily harm. Ten-year starting point. Offending at band two or early band three of Taueki
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1129
Date of Judgment
20 May 2022
Summary
Mr Prasad was found guilty at trial of murdering his estranged wife's partner. He took weapons to the victim's apartment, broke in and waited to ambush him. The victim was brutally killed with multiple knife wounds and multiple hammer blows. A sentence of life imprisonment and a minimum period of imprisonment of 18 years and 6 months' imprisonment were imposed. (Also a concurrent sentence of three months' imprisonment for an earlier assault on the wife).
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1083
Date of Judgment
17 May 2022
Summary
Ms Joyce was found guilty at trial of murdering her de facto partner. There was a history of domestic violence against the deceased. Ms Joyce covered the deceased's body with leaves and vegetation before eventually confessing to police. A sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of 13 years and nine months was imposed.
Case number
[2022] NZHC 1069
Date of Judgment
16 May 2022
Summary
The plaintiff was accidentally shot in the back due to careless omissions by a member of the Armed Offenders Squad. He brought proceedings seeking compensation for a breach of his right under s 23(5) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The High Court upheld the plaintiff's claim and granted a declaration as well as an award of compensation. The Court found that s 23(5) established minimum standards that must be maintained. Serious harm was caused to the plaintiff as a detainee and this involved a breach of the minimum standards of detention associated with s 23(5). The Court awarded $20,000 in compensation.
Case number
[2022] NZHC 966
Date of Judgment
09 May 2022
Summary
In dismissing appeal, Nation J held, subject to specific agreement, it is not a condition of grazing contract that stock will be returned in same or better condition. To prove farmer liable, owner of cows had to prove the condition of the cows at the beginning of winter grazing and that any losses could not be attributed to the condition of the cows at beginning, and normal stresses of winter grazing and pregnancy. Here, evidence did not do that, in part because of lack of BC scoring. Farmer had established he provided the agreed amount of feed. Farmer did not have burden of proving losses did not result from his neglect
Case number
[2022] NZHC 954
Date of Judgment
06 May 2022
Summary
The respondents, collectively Let's Get Wellington Moving, plan to construct a $2.8m level signalised crossing on Cobham Drive.

Wellington Airport's judicial review to be heard in July 2022, claims Waka Kotahi failed to consult properly on the proposal and proceeded on the basis of material errors. It has sought an injunction to suspend the construction in the interim as once construction starts, traffic to and from the airport will be delayed and plans for a permanent solution will be foregone.

Held:
1) Wellington Airport failed to establish a position to be preserved; and
2) factors, including safety issues and a weak case, favour dismissal of the application.
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 924
Date of Judgment
03 May 2022
Summary
Offender pleaded guilty to four charges of attempted murder under s 173 of the Crimes Act 1961. Court adopted a global starting point of 20 years' imprisonment. A 25 per cent discount was applied for the offender's guilty pleas and a further 1O percent discount was afforded for the offender's mental health. This led to an overall sentence of 13 years' imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of six and a half years.
Case number
[2022] NZHC 883
Date of Judgment
29 April 2022
Summary
The applicants challenge the Minister for the Environment’s decision to include a “vegetable exemption” in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater 2020 (NPS-FM 2020). That vegetable exemption allows regional councils to set targets for certain water quality attributes below national bottom lines if achieving the national bottom lines would compromise the domestic supply of fresh vegetables and food security. The applicants say that the exemption will permit the historical pollution and degradation of Lake Horowhenua and the Hōkiō stream to continue.

The High Court finds that it will be for the regional councils to decide whether the targets for water quality are to be set below, at or above the bottom lines. In doing so, the regional council must give effect to the other parts of the NPS-FM 2020 including Te Mana o te Wai and the requirement to involve tangata whenua in decision-making. Because of these other provisions, the vegetable exemption does not contravene the Resource Management Act 1991, nor the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. All relevant factors were taken into account and the consultation on the exemption was adequate. The applications for judicial review are dismissed.
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 863
Date of Judgment
28 April 2022
Summary
Defendant sentenced on one charge of manslaughter, a second-strike offence under the three strikes regime. The defendant was at his partner’s home when a group of four men arrived in a car and attacked the defendant. The defendant was hit on the head with a shovel and chased. He went back inside the house and emerged with a knife. The deceased was the driver of a car which attempted to run over the defendant, pinned his partner against another car, before crashing into the side of the house. The defendant entered the car from the passenger’s side and stabbed the deceased in the neck.

HELD: starting point of seven years adopted with reference to the element of provocation. Uplift of eight months for prior offending. Discounts of 10 per cent for s 27 report factors, 10 per cent to reflect rehabilitative prospects and remorse, and 25 per cent for an early offer to plead guilty. End sentence of four years and six months imprisonment. The Court declined to make an order under s 86C(4) of the Sentencing Act 2002 on the grounds that requiring the defendant to serve his sentence without parole would be disproportionably severe as to breach of s 9 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. This conclusion was reached in light of the possible proximate repeal of the three strikes regime, nature of offending, the matters raised in the s 27 report and rehabilitative prospects.
Case number
[2022] NZHC 843
Date of Judgment
28 April 2022
Summary
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei seek a declaration that they have ahi kā and mana whenua in central Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).  Other iwi oppose that on the basis Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei conceive of mana whenua as exclusive of their customary interests.  Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei also seek declarations about the legal obligations of the Crown in relation to their mana whenua.  The Crown opposes those.

After an 11 week hearing in 2021, the High Court would be prepared to make a declaration that Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei currently have ahi kā and mana whenua, in relation to the area where Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei claim it, with all the obligations of tikanga that go with that, according to the tikanga and historical tribal narrative and tradition of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

The Court would also be prepared to make a declaration that the tikanga and historical tribal narratives and traditions of Marutūāhu Rōpū (other than Ngāti Pāoa), Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, and Te Ākitai Waiohua do not currently recognise that Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have ahi kā and mana whenua, as those concepts are conceived of by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, in relation that area.  The Court invites the parties to make submissions about whether it should make those two declarations.

The Court is inclined not to make declarations about the Crown’s obligations.  But it invites submissions about whether it should make declarations along the lines that:

The duties of active protection of tikanga, and of acting reasonably and in good faith, with mutual cooperation and trust in relation to tikanga, will bear on Crown decisions affecting tikanga interests in a Treaty settlement context.

Accordingly, depending on the context, the Crown will need to take reasonable steps to understand, recognise and respect the tikanga of iwi and hapū, and the Crown will need to actively protect the ability of iwi and hapū to exercise their tikanga.

Depending on the context, the Treaty of Waitangi may also require iwi and hapū to engage in tikanga-consistent processes with other iwi and hapū about the status of relevant properties at tikanga.
Case number
[2022] NZHC 832
Date of Judgment
27 April 2022
Summary
Grounded Kiwis challenged elements of the MIQ system from 1 Sept 2021 to 17 Dec 2021 were unjustified limits on NZ citizens’ right of entry affirmed by s 18(2) of NZBORA. The respondents contended the system was a demonstrably justified public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Held: the system, where places in MIQ were available through a virtual lobby that did not prioritise citizens over others or on the basis of need or the length of time a person had been seeking to return, was not a justified limit on the s 18(2) process when demand for MIQ sufficiently exceeded supply. Emergency process did not sufficiently ameliorate this due to its tight criteria that was narrowly interpreted.
Media Release
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 753
Date of Judgment
12 April 2022
Summary
Defendant sentenced for manslaughter and assault with intent to injure. Defendant and associates involved in fight with deceased and deceased's brother. Defendant less involved (and had at times sought to stop the fighting), until punched deceased once to head, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head on road. Then assaulted deceased's brother. Adjusted starting point of 5 years' imprisonment. 15 percent discount for personal factors - causal link between childhood deprivation/violence and offending.  Five percent combined discount for rehabilitative prospects and remorse. 25 percent discount for early guilty pleas. End sentence of 2 years, 9 months imprisonment
Case number
[2022] NZHC 716
Date of Judgment
08 April 2022
Summary
Unsuccessful judicial review challenge to the vaccine mandates in the health and disability, and education sectors. The mandates were established in October 2021. A Government announcement that they were to be discontinued in the education sector, and narrowed in the health and disability sector was made in March 2022. The Court held that the mandates were lawful as a demonstrably justified limit on the right to refuse a medical treatment when they were imposed, and that it was unable to conclude they were unjustified prior to the Government announcements notwithstanding that the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant reduced the justification for the mandates. Criteria for exemptions from the mandate were also held not to be unreasonable.
Case name
Case number
[2022] NZHC 659
Date of Judgment
01 April 2022
Summary
Sentence for manslaughter given for leadership role in gang related “taxing” resulting in the death of one victim. A starting point of 10 years imprisonment was adopted. A 10 percent reduction for cultural report factors and 25 per cent for guilty plea granted. A totality adjustment of one year and six months also allowed given the effect of cumulative sentences without parole under the three strikes regime. This resulted in an end sentence of five years imprisonment to be served without parole and cumulatively on the sentence presently being served.