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 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)
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 578
Date of Judgment
19 March 2021
Summary
Sentence of 3 years 7 months imprisonment imposed for kidnapping and disfiguring. Offender's role was seconday to the principal offender who was her husband.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 569
Date of Judgment
19 March 2021
Summary
HC sentences Mr Sinclair to life imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of 17 years for murder of his 10-month old son.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 563
Date of Judgment
19 March 2021
Summary
The applicants for an inquiry into a referendum petition inadvertently did not provide security for costs in the timeframe required by the provisions of s 232 Electoral Act. At issue was whether this triggered s 232(3) and prevented the petition proceeding.
Held. The strict requirements of s 232 apply with equal force to a referendum petition. The failure to provide security for costs within the stated timeframe meant the proceedings were at an end.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 549
Date of Judgment
17 March 2021
Summary
Application by Enterprise Miramar Peninsula Incorporated for judicial review of Wellington City Council's decision to grant resource consent under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 to the Wellington Company Limited to develop a site at Shelly Bay. Applicant alleged various errors of law and/or fact in relation to two findings - transportation effects under s 34(1), and roading infrastructure under s 34(2). Application dismissed, as there were no errors in the application of the legislation, and the decision was one a reasonable decision-maker could have made.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 446
Date of Judgment
09 March 2021
Summary
Application seeking a declaration that two directives of the District Court, prohibiting Registrars from determining applications for bail or variation of bail in family violence cases, are invalid.

Result:  Declaration made:  The directions made by the District Court requiring any decision on bail applications on family violence charges to be made by judicial officers only, are unlawful.

Consequently, the directions are quashed.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 429
Date of Judgment
09 March 2021
Summary
Negligence claim for the repair cost of a Yak-3M aircraft, relating to an accident at the 2018 Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow where the aircraft was damaged on landing.

The plaintiff alleged there were a series of failures by those involved in the organisation and operation of the show which led to the accident. The defendants denied breaching any duty of care and claimed the pilot was responsible for the accident.

Held: The first and third defendants were liable for breaches of various duties by those involved in the organisation and operation of the show. The pilot was found not to have been contributorily negligent. The costs of repair were awarded.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 399
Date of Judgment
05 March 2021
Summary
Penalty hearing for breach of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 (the Act). ANZ had over an extended period inadvertently issued duplicate credit card insurance (CCI) policies and maintenance cover for customers who did not meet age eligibility criteria . 0.3% of CCI policy holders affected. FMA & ANZ agreed that appropriate penalty was $280,000. Held: (1) Although there were significant public benefits associated with acceptance of recommended penalties the Court must still be satisfied the proposal is within an appropriate range. (2) The maximum penalty for the breaches should be assessed as $5M.  (3) Having regard to the criteria in s 49 of the Act and   he extent to which general deterrence was appropriate the proposed starting point in the vicinity of $400,000 was appropriate . (4) From his, a discount of 30% was appropriate to acknowledge ANZ's prompt and candid admission of the breaches (earlier self-report to the FMA). (5) In the result the recommended penalty of $280,000 was within range and approved.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 390
Date of Judgment
05 March 2021
Summary
Appeals by Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society Inc and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Maia against a decision of a Board of Inquiry permitting the proposed East West Link ("proposed EWL"), a motorway connecting State Highways 1 and 20 through Onehunga and Penrose along the northern shore of the Manukau Harbour. 

Appeals limited to questions of law. Principal appeal was brought by Forest and Bird with the support of Ngāti Whātua, that Board erred in law by finding for the purposes of s 104D(1)(b) of the Resource Management Act 1991 that the proposed EWL was not contrary to the objectives and policies of the Auckland Unitary Plan ("AUP"). Forest and Bird relied upon requirement in chapter D9 of the AUP which required more than minor adverse effects to be avoided, and the Board had confirmed that this was not possible in the event the proposed EWL proceeded. 

Held : Notwithstanding chapter D9 (and also chapters F2 and E15), chapter E26 specifically provided a framework for consideration of infrastructure which meant that Board correct in concluding the proposed EWL was not contrary to the objectives and policies of the AUP. 

On the second appeal, brought by Ngāti Whātua and Forest and Bird, at issue was whether the Board had had regard/particular regard Ito the NZCPS as required by ss 104 and 171 of the RMA. 

Held : Clear with reference to the decision that the Board had considered the NZCPS as it was required to do in terms of both ss 104 and 171 and no error of law. 

Both appeals dismissed
Case number
[2021] NZHC 307
Date of Judgment
26 February 2021
Summary
Judicial review application opposing the Chief Ombudsman's decision to refuse to grant FSCL consent to use the "Ombudsman" name. Held: The Chief Ombudsman predetermined his refusal of FSCL's application.  Although on its face it appeared a meticulous decision-making process was undertaken, the comments and actions of the Chief Ombudsman outside of the formal decision-making process indicated his mind was closed on the issue and not amenable to persuasion. Judicial review allowed and decision quashed and remitted for reconsideration with guidelines for reconsideration process. It is permissible under the Ombudsmen Act to delegate the decision to another Ombudsman, or to require another Ombudsman.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 291
Date of Judgment
26 February 2021
Summary
In exercising its supervisory jurisdiction over the Ngāti Rehua-Ngātiwai ki Aotea Trust in relation to a dispute over whakapapa, where there is no conflicting law, the Court is bound to make decisions consistent with tikanga Ngāti Rehua-Ngātiwai ki Aotea. But it is not the role of the Court, or even possible for the Court, to determine whakapapa. That is for Ngāti Rehua-Ngātiwai ki Aotea. An external arbitrator determining  whakapapa,  without a strong connection to Ngāti Rehua-Ngātiwai ki Aotea and a deep understanding of its tikanga, would be inconsistent with tikanga Ngāti Rehua-Ngātiwai ki Aotea. The parties here are bound not to pursue it for that reason. Doing so would also be inconsistent with the Court's previous orders which seek to uphold that tikanga. So continuing the external arbitration in relation to whakapapa would be an abuse of the process of the Court, meaning the Court has the jurisdiction to stay the arbitration. The dispute is not arbitrable under s 10 of the Arbitration Act 1996 for the same reason. Accordingly, the parties' agreement to refer issues of whakapapa to external arbitration is null and void.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 250
Date of Judgment
23 February 2021
Summary
Sentencing following an accepted sentencing indication. Aggravated burglary warranted a seven year starting point. Uplift of six months applies for offending while on bail. Defendant given the following discounts; 15 per cent discount for cultural and social factors, including addiction, 10 per cent for remorse, 10 per cent for rehabilitative prospects and 10 per cent for youth . Full 25 per cent guilty plea discount was available. On account of totality the sentence was then reduced by one year. End sentence of 15 months imprisonment, cumulative to the sentence currently being served.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 217
Date of Judgment
19 February 2021
Summary
High Court sentences offender to ten years imprisonment of charges of conspiring to supply pseudophrine, participating in an unlawful criminal group and money laundering.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 146
Date of Judgment
12 February 2021
Summary
Sentencing for the manslaughter of a 10-month-old child. Victim suffered fatal brain injury while in sole charge of defendant, most likely from shaking or being thrown against a hard surface. No external injuries. Starting point of eight years imprisonment adopted. Discounts were given for time spent on EM Bail and personal mitigating circumstances. End sentence of six years and five months imprisonment.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 140
Date of Judgment
11 February 2021
Summary
Two sentences given for each defendants' role in manslaughter and aggravated robbery charges. Mr Kingi received a sentence of four years two months' imprisonment. Mr Burns received a sentence of four years' imprisonment and Mr Hubbard received a sentence of three years 10 months' imprisonment. All three defendants received a sentence of three years' imprisonment for the charge of aggravated robbery to be served concurrently. No MPI imposed.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 68
Date of Judgment
10 February 2021
Summary
Review of the decision of the Whakatane District Council to grant consent, non-notified, to a service station located on a Māori roadway. Applications successful in part only:
1) Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa's claim to legitimate expectation; and,
2) unreasonableness because the Council gave only cursory attention to the potential for conflict between pedestrian use especially by resident children, and increased vehicle movement generated by the service station. TRONA's claim to affected person status not successful. While an iwi authority may qualify as an affected person, particularly in relation to matters of iwi level concern, the Court found localised traffic effects were not such a matter.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 65
Date of Judgment
03 February 2021
Summary
Manslaughter sentencing. Defendant accidentally shot and killed best friend. Starting point taken of four years, eight months imprisonment. Reduction made for early guilty plea, youth, remorse, personal circumstances and time spent on EM bail. Ultimate end sentence two years, eight months.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 64
Date of Judgment
03 February 2021
Summary
Discharge without conviction under ss 106 and 107 of the Sentencing Act on the charge of manslaughter of an 11 month old child.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 48
Date of Judgment
02 February 2021
Summary
Application for costs for judicial review proceedings challenging process adopted by Regional Council in dealing with application to permit use of water for bottling and sale overseas.
Whether Council entitled to higher award of costs for certain steps in the proceeding because of complexity of claim and because application did not abandon claims that were not advanced further at hearing?
-whether costs award for other parties should be discounted because Council had major role in opposing claim?
-whether costs payable by applicant should be discounted because claim included matters of public interest?
-whether payment of costs should be deferred because applicant appealing judgment?
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1565
Date of Judgment
03 July 2020
Summary
Judgment originally delivered on 3 July 2020 and provided to the parties at that time, but suppressed for six months for the reasons set out in the judgment (and summarised below). Decision as to whether there was an ongoing need for redactions to a judgment in respect of the plaintiff, NZME's, unsuccessful application for an injunction against the defendant, Nine Entertainment. NZME submitted (in July 2020) that the judgment should now be released in unredacted form, due to changed circumstances (the sale of Stuff Limited to its CEO). Stuff (an interested third party) sought retention of the redactions for a further six to twelve months. The defendant, Nine Entertainment, supported Stuff's position. HELD: Applying Erceg v Erceg, release of the judgment in unredacted form at this time (3 July 2020) could result in serious adverse consequences to Stuff, its employees, and associated third parties. Weighing such harm against the principle of open justice, the appropriate course was to defer releasing an unredacted form of the judgment for a further six months.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1345
Date of Judgment
16 June 2020
Summary
On 16 June 2020, the High Court (Downs J) declined Mr Parker name suppression as a “connected person” to a criminal trial. The Court concluded Mr Parker would suffer undue hardship if his name were published, but the interests of open justice favoured publication.

Mr Parker appealed unsuccessfully to the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court declined Mr Parker permission to appeal to it.

Mr Parker had interim name suppression throughout this sequence. The Supreme Court ordered that lapse, hence this unredacted judgment of last year.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 1029
Date of Judgment
18 May 2020
Summary
On 18 May 2020 the High Court released a judgment declining an injunction application by NZME to, in effect, prevent Nine Entertainment Limited (the then owner of the Stuff group of media companies) from negotiating the sale of Stuff to  a third party (Stuffs CEO, Sinead Boucher). The judgment was released in redacted form for reasons of commercial sensitivity, in the context of ongoing commercial negotiations at the time. In a subsequent decision dated 3 July 2020 (being released contemporaneously with this judgment) the High Court ruled that the redactions were to continue in force for a further six months, for the reasons set out in that decision. The full 18 May 2020 judgment is now being released in unredacted form. In particular, parts of paragraphs [7], [8], [15], [18], [19],[31] and [32] were previously redacted. The redacted passages primarily related to:
*a resolution by the Board of Nine Entertainment to close Stuff if a sale could not be concluded by 31 May 2020; and
*the fact that NZME and Nine Entertainment had explored applying for Commerce Commission clearance for NZME's proposed acquisition of Stuff on a "failing firm" basis.