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 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.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 644
Date of Judgment
03 April 2020
Summary
Defamation claims by Mr John Stringer against Mr Colin Craig, Mrs Helen Craig, Mr Stephen Taylor, Mr Kevin Stitt and Mrs Angela Storr all fail. The defendants are protected by qualified privilege and, except in relation to one claim, also by the defences of truth or honest opinion.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 666
Date of Judgment
31 March 2020
Summary
First judicial consideration of whether a Court has jurisdiction to determine the property rights of three persons in a polyamorous relationship under the PRA.

Held: It does not. Parliament clearly chose to base the Act on the concept of "coupledom", and it does not apply to relationships of >2 persons. Nor does the statutory scheme as enacted anticipate such relationships being divided into dyadic relationships to 'fit' the Act, which some academics have suggested could be done. Although there is a forcible policy argument the Act should be extended, it is for Parliament, not the Court, to revisit the scope of the Act. Observed that, until that happens, developing equity, using the principles of the PRA, may offer some relief.
Case number
na
Date of Judgment
26 March 2020
Case number
[2020] NZHC 653
Date of Judgment
25 March 2020
Summary
Application for writ of habeas corpus due to national lock down from 11:59 pm tonight. Applicant resides in a motor home at a storage yard which will be closed and locked from 5pm today. Applicant says he will be denied access to necessities. In addition, locking the gates will frustrate his ability to work. Application dismissed. Crown is not responsible for any detention, no detention has taken place, nothing to the New Zealand Government is acting unlawfully in declaring a state of emergency.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 568
Date of Judgment
19 March 2020
Summary
Application for judicial review of a Ministerial decision under Immigration Act 2009, s 190(5) declining to grant residence as an exception to the Family (Partnership) category of the immigration instructions, under which the applicant's partner was an ineligible sponsor. There were special circumstances to do with the genuine relationship and the effects of family separation or relocation to China. Review was sought for failure to consider mandatory considerations (special circumstances, s 3 of the Act, international obligations and the possibility of conditions), error and unreasonableness.HELD: There was a failure to consider international obligations and the decision was unreasonable.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 565
Date of Judgment
19 March 2020
Summary
Dismissal of further application to discharge jury in relation to COVID -19 developments: here, the Chief Justice's advice to practitioners
Case number
[2020] NZHC 562
Date of Judgment
19 March 2020
Summary
Reasons for dismissal of application by defendant for discharge of the whole jury, per Juries Act 1981, s 22. The application arose amidst COVID-19 issues and focussed on ss 22(2)(a) and 22(3)(a). Counsel was concerned jurors would "rush to justice", in the face of such issues. One juror discharged due to potential illness per s 22(2)(a). Remaining jurors willing to continue. At time of judgment, a "casualty" or "emergency" was not constituted, trial fairness not jeopardised. Application dismissed.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 531
Date of Judgment
17 March 2020
Summary
Sentencing notes. Prisoner serving a term of life imprisonment for murder. Convicted of wounding another prisoner, Graeme Burton with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Consideration of whether preventive detention was required or a finite term would be sufficient. Preventive detention imposed with a MPI of five years, two months.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 419
Date of Judgment
06 March 2020
Summary
Strike out application for climate change-based tort action. The defendants applied to strike out the plaintiff's statement of claim on the basis that it discloses no arguable cause of action and concerns complex policy matters that are best left to Parliament. The plaintiff asserted the defendants are liable to him for public nuisance, negligence and pursuant to an inchoate duty. Held: the public nuisance and negligence claims are untenable, for a number of reasons including policy matters and because the defendants' emissions are minute in the global context. Nevertheless, the third cause of action not struck out, leaving open the possibility of a new tortious duty which makes corporates responsible to the public for their emissions.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 383
Date of Judgment
04 March 2020
Summary
Appeal on whether redacted details of Department of Corrections employees discussing an appellant via email were his "personal information" for the purpose of an information request pursuant to information principle 6 of the Privacy Act 1993.
The Director of Human Rights Proceedings and Privacy Commissioner intervened in support. HELD: The redacted details were not his personal information. "Personal information" is a legal term, and its definition must be workable across a range of uses within the Act and not be affected by other purposes. The information was not "mixed information" - the redactions simply appeared alongside the information. There was no interference with privacy.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 366
Date of Judgment
03 March 2020
Summary
Sentencing of principal and parties on 3 regulatory offences (Ms Che on a fourth charge) under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009. Jiaxin is a money remitter and currency exchange business. Mr Fu is the sole director and shareholder. Ms Che is his mother and closely involved in the seam of Jiaxin's business involving the offending transactions. The total sum of money remitted in the transactions underpinning the charges was $53M and involved one particular customer, a wealthy businessman. HELD: Fines alone were imposed on respect of each of the defendants. The Criminal proceeds (Recovery)Act 2009 proceedings faced by Ms Che and Mr Fu were not relevant in the sentencing exercise. Principles and purposes of the Sentencing Act 2002 and AML/CFT Act in the context of non-compliance risking damage to New Zealand's financial reputation. The global starting point 'or each of the defendants for charges 2-4 was set at 60% of the maximum fine available for a single charge. This reflected the deliberateness of the offending and the overlap between charges 2-4 which related to a particular series of transactions. It was also informed by the starting points set in three pecuniary penalty cases in the civil jurisdiction under the Act. Profit and retention of the particular seam of business was clearly the driving motivation behind the offending. Ms Che was subject to an additional starting point of $45,000 to reflect her offending on the structuring offence. No personal aggravating or mitigating factors applied to Mr Fu. Evidence of alleged convictions in China was rejected as insufficiently reliable in the circumstances. Jiaxin was awarded a 15% reduction in the starting point to recognise Jiaxin's prior record as a compliant business, and to take into account the impact on Mr Fu as the sole shareholder and director. Ms Che received a 10% discount to reflect her prior good character.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 317
Date of Judgment
28 February 2020
Summary
Mr Chahil appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to 17 charges of knowingly failing to provide information to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue; 17 charges of providing false information to evade tax; and nine charges of money laundering. Mr Gupta appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to nine charges of money laundering. Mr Chahil controlled the Masala related companies which operated multiple restaurants. He caused them to knowingly not provide income tax returns to the Commissioner and to file 115 GST returns containing false or misleading sales figures. The overall GST tax shortfall was $702,667.37. The proceeds of the completed tax evasion were subject to various money laundering transactions involving both Mr Chahil and Mr Gupta; at least $524,184.94 was laundered. HELD (Mr Chahil): A starting point of three years and three months' imprisonment adopted for the tax evasion charges. An uplift of nine months to reflect the money laundering charges was warranted. A three-month discount was awarded on a totality basis given home detention served for other offending. Deduction of 15 per cent to reflect Mr Chahil's guilty plea. An end sentence of three years and two months' imprisonment imposed plus $50,000 fine on lesser tax charges. HELD (Mr Gupta): Mr Gupta's culpability was less than Mr Chahil 's. He was reckless to the origins of the funds laundered and obtained little personal gain. A starting point of two years' imprisonment adopted. A global discount of 10 per cent applied for remorse and previous good character. A further 10 per cent discount was awarded for his guilty plea, resulting in an end sentence of one year and eight months' imprisonment. Mr Gupta is a suitable candidate for home detention; an end sentence of 10 months' home detention imposed.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 288
Date of Judgment
27 February 2020
Summary
The defendant pushed his 86 year old step-grandmother to the ground. She broke her leg and later died in hospital. The Crown charged manslaughter but later amended the charge to causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard for the victim's safety. Eighteen-month starting point adopted. Discounts given for the defendant's youth, prospect of rehabilitation and immediate guilty plea to the amended charge. Home detention imposed rather than imprisonment because of the combination of particular factors.