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
[2020] NZHC 3111
Date of Judgment
24 November 2020
Summary
A prisoner challenging Corrections' security classification decisions by judicial review is allowed to appear in person. Another prisoner,!who has been assisting him, may not appear but may have two telephone calls with him before the hearing.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 3009
Date of Judgment
13 November 2020
Summary
Successful judicial review of regulations and standards relating to pigs farrowing crates and mating stalls. The High Court found the regulations and minimum standards circumvent Parliament's intention in enacting the empowering legislation in the Animal Welfare Amendment Act (No 2) 2015, are contrary to the purposes of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and are unlawful and invalid. The Court made declarations that the relevant regulations and minimum standards are unlawful and invalid and directed the Minister to reconsider.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2995
Date of Judgment
12 November 2020
Summary
Sentencing - motor manslaughter and driving with excess blood alcohol (3rd or subsequent) - sentence indication accepted.

HELD: sentence on manslaughter of 5 years, 2 months' imprisonment - sentence on blood alcohol offence of one year's imprisonment to be served concurrently - 4 years' disqualification from driving, to commence on release from imprisonment.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2992
Date of Judgment
12 November 2020
Summary
PROTEST TO JURISDICTION:
Decision on an application under r 5.49 of the High Court Rules to set aside an appearance under protest to jurisdiction. The parties are based in China. The plaintiff runs power stations. The defendant's company had contracts under which it sourced coal for power generation for the plaintiff. The plaintiff made an advance payment to the defendant's company. The defendant guaranteed repayment. The plaintiff also took security over the assets of another company in China. When the defendant's company did not repay, the plaintiff sued the defendant's company, t he defendant and the other company in the courts in China. The plaintiff was unsuccessful in enforcing the judgments in China. When it found that the defendant had assets in New Zealand, it brought this proceeding to enforce the Chinese judgment against the New Zealand assets. The defendant contests jurisdiction by alleging that China did not have "courts" as understood in New Zealand and under Chinese law the plaintiff had to exhaust its rights under its securities before it could enforce its judgment against him on his personal guarantee.

The appearance was set aside. It was held that the plaintiff had a good arguable case that the body that gave judgment against him was a court and there was nothing to suggest that there was anything improper in the way that the court had heard the case and given judgment against the defendant. As the Chinese court had enforced the judgment against the defendant in China without first requiring the plaintiff to enforce its mortgage security against the other company, the Chinese judgment was unconditional and could be enforced in New Zealand. The plaintiff can continue its claim in New Zealand.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 74 KB)
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2911
Date of Judgment
05 November 2020
Summary
Sentence of four years five months' imprisonment for the charge of manslaughter of defendant's baby.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2883
Date of Judgment
04 November 2020
Summary
Freezing orders are continued in proceedings mirroring proceedings in Singapore
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2876
Date of Judgment
03 November 2020
Summary
Successful judicial review of RITANZ membership decision declining insolvency practitioner with historic dishonesty convictions.

Held: Legal test looks to relevance of the offending.  To presume its relevance and weigh it against evidence of reform was erroneous.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2851
Date of Judgment
30 October 2020
Summary
Claim by the plaintiffs as insured against their insurer, the third defendant IAG, under both their policy and the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) for partially unscoped and defective earthquake repairs to their Christchurch home, carried out negligently by the first defendant builder (Farrells) (now in liquidation), under IAG's out of policy Managed Repair Programme, succeeds.  IAG "to pay" policy standard to meet the repair costs to a generally "when new" standard not met here.  Similar claims by the plaintiffs against IAG in negligence and estoppel fail.  Claims by the plaintiffs against the first defendant Farrells as builder for breach of the Building Contract, negligence and under the CGA succeed, but the builder is in liquidation.  Claim by the plaintiffs against the second defendant (Hawkins - now in liquidation), engaged by IAG in a project management-type role to monitor aspects of the building repairs, under the CGA also succeeds.  A similar claim against Hawkins in negligence, however, generally fails.  Claim by the plaintiffs against the fourth defendant (QBE) as insurer of Hawkins and its building related operations under a professional indemnity (PI) policy that existed pre-liquidation, succeeds under s 9 Law Reform Act 1936.  PI policy, however, has an agreed excess of $50,000.  Cross-claims by IAG against Hawkins and by Hawkins against IAG under mutual indemnity provisions in their 2012 RSMA contract (under the Managed Repair Programme) mean an overall result is reached as between these parties, even though they each have wide joint and several liability of $389,484 plus certain accommodation costs to the plaintiffs.  This result determines that Hawkins in its relationship with IAG, although not being responsible under the 2012 RSMA for certifying quality or workmanship on the part of the builder Farrells, is responsible to IAG but to a lesser extent, for certifying in error some milestone payments it wrongly said were due to the builder.  Thus, between IAG and QBE, IAG has a final liability for the major part of damages awarded to the plaintiffs, less the Hawkins responsibility amount met by QBE in terms of its indemnity liability under the PI policy and less a further PI policy excess of $50,000.  Result between IAG and QBE is that overall IAG is liable to the Sleights for $309,379.04, plus 79.64 per cent of certain accommodation costs to be incurred by the Sleights, and QBE is liable to meet $80,468.96, plus 20.36 per cent of the Sleights' accommodation costs.  Interest and costs reserved.

Declaration made that certain limitation and exclusion clauses in IAG and Hawkins' favour in the Building Contract with Farrells are enforceable and are not an unconscionable bargain.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2782
Date of Judgment
22 October 2020
Summary
Judicial review of Minister's decision to cancel applicant's passport under Passports Act 1992 on basis that applicant was a danger to the security of another country. Applicant argued her passport ceased to exist before the decision, rendering it void. Special advocate submitted Minister applied the wrong test for intention to facilitate a terrorist act, and insufficient information to reasonably believe such intention. Application dismissed. Applicant's argument untenable.  Special advocate's grounds also failed - correct test applied and there was sufficient information. Further reasons in closed judgment taking account of classified security information. 
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2768
Date of Judgment
21 October 2020
Summary
The Environment Court was invited to determine as a preliminary question whether it has jurisdiction to determine who holds "primary mana whenua" either generally or in the context of imposing resource consent conditions. That Environment Court found that there was no jurisdiction to determine primary mana whenua generally and reframed the question about resource consent conditions into a question about whether the Environment Court had jurisdiction to determine the relative strength of relationship of iwi to their whenua (the Reframed Question). The Environment Court answered this question yes. The Appellants contended that the Environment Court erred by reframing the question and by answering it in the affirmative. They argued that reframing the question was outside of the Court's jurisdiction and that it was unfair to reframe the question without affording them an opportunity to be heard on it. The Appellants and the Council further contended that the Resource Management Act 1991 does not expressly or impliedly confer jurisdiction to determine primacy of mana whenua or the relative strength of relationship of iwi to their whenua. 

The Appeal has been allowed in part. While the possibility of a reframed question was discussed, the parties should have been given a formal opportunity to submit on the Reframed Question. The High Court found that while the Environment Court does not have jurisdiction to confer, declare or affirm tikanga based rights per se, the Court is able to make evidential findings about tikanga based rights where that is relevant to the discharge of the Act's duties to Maori. The High Court otherwise refused to answer the question about primary mana whenua without full argument and evidence. The Court also found that the Environment Court may assess the relative strength of relationship provided that the claim based on relationship is grounded in and defined according to tikanga Maori, is clearly directed to a statutory duty to Maori, and to a precise resource management outcome. The Court did not accept that this process involved the ranking of iwi. Rather, the Court found that where iwi claim that a particular outcome is required to meet the statutory directions at s6(e),7(a) and 8 in accordance with tikanga Maori, resource management decision-makers must meaningfully respond to that claim. That duty to meaningfully respond must apply when different iwi make divergent tikanga-based claims as to what is required to meet those obligations.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2753
Date of Judgment
20 October 2020
Summary
Sentencing of two offenders who kidnapped, assaulted and tortured a man over a 12 hour period. The offending was brutal, prolonged, sadistic, and at the extreme end of the criminal spectrum. A co-offender (Sefulu) had 1previously been sentenced. Kea's culpability was assessed as similar to Sefulu's and the same starting point (15 years) was adopted. A starting point of 16 years was adopted for the lead offender, Hourigan. Hourigan's starting point was uplifted by 2 years for unrelated arson offending, as well as offending (including dangerous driving and arms offending) related to his flight from the police. A discount of 10 per cent was given to each offender for personal mitigating circumstances and a 20 per cent discount was given for their guilty pleas. Mr Hourigan's final sentence was therefore 12 years and 7 months imprisonment , while Mr Kea's final sentence was 10 years and 6 months imprisonment. Minimum periods of imprisonment of 50 per cent were imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2752
Date of Judgment
20 October 2020
Summary
High Court approves scheme of arrangement under which Asia Pacific Village Group Ltd acquires all the shares in Metlifecare for $6 per share.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2725
Date of Judgment
16 October 2020
Summary
Sentencing for murder. Defendant lay in wait for deceased before shooting him in the back at close range with a shotgun. Guilty plea. Issue as to discounts for guilty plea, remorse and non-causative mental health condition. Sentence of life imprisonment with MPI of 11 years.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2724
Date of Judgment
16 October 2020
Summary
Sentencing following guilty plea and sentence indication for Mr Pian for  his involvement in fraudulent  property investment sch eme. Initial starting point of four and a half years reduced to three and a half years for his repayment to the vict im . 10 per cent discount given for previous good charact er, five per cent for remorse, 15 per cent for guilty plea and a further 15 per cent for his material assistance to Crown in prosecution of his co-defendants. 8 m home detention least rest r ict ive outcome in the circumst ances .
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2704
Date of Judgment
14 October 2020
Summary
Unsuccessful appeal against name suppression orders.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2700
Date of Judgment
14 October 2020
Summary
Insanity and disposition hearing where defendant charged with murder. Crown and Defence agree appropriate outcome is a verdict of not guilty on account of insanity and the proper disposition is detention as a special patient.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2661
Date of Judgment
09 October 2020
Summary
Mr Yu is sentenced to 15.5 years' imprisonment for importing 110 kg of methamphetamine, with a minimum period of imprisonment of seven years.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2650
Date of Judgment
08 October 2020
Summary
Leighton Baker, the leader of New Conservative, a registered political party, was not invited to participate in the TVNZ Multi-Party Debate.  It polled fifth equal in the most recent 1 News Colmar Brunton poll with 1.4 per cent.  The leaders of the Māori Party and  Advance NZ, both of which polled lower than New Conservative, are invited to the debate.  Accordingly, New Conservative and Mr Baker (together, the applicants) applied for an order requiring TVNZ to invite Mr Baker to participate in the debate. Immediately following the hearing, the Court dismissed the application with reasons to follow. This judgment contains those reasons. The Court held that the applicants had failed to establish a prima facie case that TVNZ had acted unreasonably.  The Māori Party and Advance NZ were invited to participate in the debate through other criteria, namely criterion three (as revised), which provides that "Leaders of registered parties where  the leader has been a MP or party had been represented, in either/both of the past two parliaments" are eligible to participate in the debate. New Conservative does not meet that criterion, nor does it meet any of the other two criteria (being, first, where the leader of the party is currently represented  in Parliament, and/or, secondly, where the leader of the party scores three percent in at least one of the 1 News Colmar Brunton polls up to six months prior to the debate). Nor was there a prima facie case that TVNZ has failed to take into account relevant considerations or unlawfully fettered its discretion.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2630
Date of Judgment
07 October 2020
Summary
Application for declaration that the provisions in the Electoral Act 1993 and the Local Electoral Act 2001 fixing the minimum voting age at 18 years for elections and referendums are inconsistent with the right in s 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 to be free from discrimination on the basis of age. Using Hansen methodology, finding that the provisions are inconsistent with s 19, but the inconsistency is demonstrably justified under s 5. Application declined.
Media Release
Media Release (PDF, 162 KB)
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2629
Date of Judgment
06 October 2020
Summary
Sentencing on lead charge of kidnapping, in context of predatory sexual offending against children: starting point, four and a half years' imprisonment; uplifted by 18 months for concurrent sexual offending, and 6 months as occurring on bail for family violence offending; no adjustment for personal circumstances (s 27 report of 'trapped lifestyle' has no connection to offending); 10 per cent discount for eventual guilty plea avoiding only trial; end sentence five years and ten months' imprisonment; MPI of three years.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2574
Date of Judgment
01 October 2020
Summary
Urgent application for interim relief by The Advance New Zealand Party (Advance New Zealand) to restrain Newshub Nation from recording its intended "Powerbroker's" debate without including Advance New Zealand. Whether there is a prima facie case that the selection or qualification criterion set by Newshub Nation is unreasonable or arbitrary and therefore unlawful.

HELD: The criterion selected has a rational connection to the purpose of this particular debate which is styled as a "Powerbroker's Debate" with a focus on parties who may be key to the balance of power and deciding the next government. Dunne v CanWest TVWorks Ltd and Craig v MediaWorks Ltd distinguished on their facts and context. The prima facie case threshold for interim relief (which would be dispositive of the case) is not made out on the evidence before the Court . The balance of convenience does not favour the grant of interim relief and no additional overall justice factors supporting interference with media's editorial discretion.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2545
Date of Judgment
30 September 2020
Summary
McNeill Drilling Company advised Hayden Johnston and his company that it would be difficult to obtain a supply of water sufficient for irrigation purposes on the flat area of his land at its distance from the Clyde River.  Mr Johnston engaged McNeill to drill a well on the schist hillside above the flat area, at a point chosen by Mr Johnston, with the assistance of a water diviner.  McNeill drilled a bore and found water which Mr Johnston is able to use for a subdivision.  He refused to pay the cost of the bore saying it did not provide a supply sufficient for his needs.  He claimed McNeill had advised him to drill on the hillside when they knew he could obtain the supply he needed from a bore on the flat because it would be more profitable for them to drill on the hillside.

On appeal, the High Court held Mr Johnston's company must pay for the bore which provides water it is going to use.  The evidence did not provide a sufficient basis for Mr Johnston to claim McNeill had been deliberately deceptive.  Mr Johnston's company claimed nearly $200,000 for costs it had incurred in establishing a pump for the bore and for loss of income from an apple orchard which Mr Johnston claimed he could not establish because the output from the well was inadequate.  The High Court agreed the District Court Judge had been correct to dismiss this claim.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2553
Date of Judgment
29 September 2020
Summary
Murder sentencing. Defendant took his two year-old daughter to a river. In the water, he let her go, causing her to drown and die.

Held: Sentence of life imprisonment with 14-year MPI imposed. Section 104(g) clearly met given the victim's vulnerability, being only two years old and in a position of care and trust of the defendant. However, a 17- year MPI would be manifestly unjust. The defendant's mental illness, and the particular effect it had on  the thinking  and decision-making that led to the victim's death, reduced his culpability. A two-year reduction from the MPI was given in recognition of this. A further one­ year reduction was given in respect of his genuine remorse.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2528
Date of Judgment
25 September 2020
Summary
Leave to appeal is granted and interim suppression orders were continued until 5pm Tuesday 29 September 2020 unless extended by the Court of Appeal.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2502
Date of Judgment
24 September 2020
Summary
The Director of the Serious Fraud Office intends to issue a public statement about criminal charges it has filed following its investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation.  The two defendants are not Ministers, sitting MPs, candidates  at the election or members of their staff. The NZ First Party applies for orders prohibiting the Director from issuing the statement until after a government has been formed following the General Election. I accept there is a risk of confusion and a negative impact on NZ First's electoral prospects from the statement. But I decline the application because the public interest in transparency outweighs the inconvenience to NZ First.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2487
Date of Judgment
23 September 2020
Summary
Mr Ransfield pleaded guilty to murdering Maui Houkamau. A sentence of life imprisonment with at least a minimum period of 10 years was not manifestly unjust. The Court adopted a 16-year minimum period of imprisonment starting point with reference to comparable authority. The Court then applied a two-year discount to account for personal mitigating factors and a guilty plea. The Court did not consider s 104 to be engaged. In the result, the Court sentenced Mr Ransfield to life imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of 14 years
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2382
Date of Judgment
14 September 2020
Summary
The defendant is charged with murder and attempted murder and was found unfit to stand trial due to cognitive and intellectual difficulties. The judgment concerns the second step in the process outlined under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003, namely the determination of the defendant's involvement in the acts that form the basis of the charges. The key issues were whether self-defence should be taken into account in determining involvement and, if so, whether self-defence was established. 

The charges arise out of an altercation on a residential street. Following an earlier incident, the deceased, the complainant, and four other men went to the defendant's family home late at night looking for a fight. The defendant's brother was being beaten on the ground by at least three if not more men, when the defendant came out waving a knife resulting in the stabbing of the deceased and the complainant. 

The Court finds that self-defence is to be considered in determining involvement partly because it is the only opportunity the defendant will have to run that defence. On the facts of this case, the Court finds that the defendant was acting to defend his brother and himself at the time of the stabbings. Accordingly, self-defence is established and the defendant is found not to be "involved". The charges are dismissed.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2381
Date of Judgment
14 September 2020
Summary
Summary of findings in determination in involvement hearing delivered orally. (See R v Tongia (2020] NZHC 2382).
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2314
Date of Judgment
07 September 2020
Summary
Sentence of nine years and four months' imprisonment imposed on one charge of (motor) manslaughter (and other periods on lesser charges, to be served concurrently). Defendant fleeing from police, greatly affected by methamphetamine, did not see pedestrian (although plainly visible) before striking and killing him, and speeding off. Disqualification from driving for three years from discharge from prison.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2289
Date of Judgment
03 September 2020
Summary
Sentence of three years six months' imprisonment imposed for one charge of manslaughter and five charges of dangerous driving causing injury.  Defendant's six month old son killed, and a four year old girl made a tetraplegic.  Also disqualification from driving for four years and six months.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 2192
Date of Judgment
27 August 2020
Summary
Offender pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of committing a terrorist act after shooting worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch. Court held that no minimum period of imprisonment would be sufficient to satisfy the purpose of sentencing. Offender sentenced to life imprisonment without parole under s 103 (2A) Sentencing Act 2002.