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 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 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.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 272
Date of Judgment
26 February 2020
Summary
Bail is granted to a woman convicted of manslaughter of her abusive partner.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 233
Date of Judgment
21 February 2020
Summary
Sentencing for murder of Grace Millane. Life imprisonment was accepted, main issue was what MPI should be imposed. Section 104 applied. Overall the circumstances of the murder showed a high-level of callousness, including: the intimate nature of the murder itself; K's actions immediately after the murder which showed the sexual elements of the murder; and the sustained and planned action he took to conceal his involvement , from immediately after the murder to days later. Mitigating factors were held insufficient to warrant a discount or make 17 years manifestly unjust, in light of the seriousness of the offending. Sentence of life imprisonment with 17 year MPI imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 230
Date of Judgment
21 February 2020
Summary
Application for mandatory interim injunction directing the respondent to lift 12 month ban preventing applicant from travelling on respondent's flights, and for a change of venue for the proceeding. The respondent considered the applicant, and accompanying family, to have behaved unacceptably towards the respondent's staff when the respondent's staff queried the applicant and her family's eligibility to use the Koru Club Airport Lounge. The respondent warned the applicant in writing that failure to observe its Lounge Terms and Conditions and Conditions of Carriage in the future would risk denial of access to the Lounge and/or a ban from flying with the respondent. The applicant's disregard for the warning, manifested in subsequent conduct towards, and correspondence with, the respondent's staff, prompted the respondent to impose the ban.
Held
Application for mandatory interim injunction dismissed. No serious question to be tried. Applicant's claim was contractual. Doctrine of prime necessity not engaged. The respondent's decision to impose the ban was consistent with its Conditions of Carriage; it was reached in the exercise of its reasonable discretion. Balance of convenience favours respondent. Overall justice of the case necessitates upholding the ban. Dismissal of interim relief dispositive of claim. Application for transfer of proceeding to another registry also dismissed. Proceeding correctly filed per High Court Rules 2016.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 224
Date of Judgment
20 February 2020
Summary
Sentence of preventive detention with minimum period of five years' imprisonment imposed on 78 year­ old sex offender. Age did not mitigate the offending nor justify a reduction in sentence in light of his enduring deviant sexual attraction towards children
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 169
Date of Judgment
14 February 2020
Summary
Defendant appeared for sentence on one charge of attempted murder. She attempted to drown her severely disabled son. Her severely disturbed mental state greatly reduces her moral culpability, affecting the gravity of the offending. The breach of trust and the victim's vulnerability are aggravating features. A starting point of 2 years and 6 months' imprisonment adopted. Discount of 4 months for good character, prospects of rehabilitation and remorse.Time spent on EM bail justifies a further 4-month discount. Relevant purposes and principles of sentencing are met with a sentence short of imprisonment. End sentence of 8 months' home detention imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 246
Date of Judgment
19 February 2020
Summary
Reasons for dismissing manslaughter charge against Jason Anaru-Emery, at the conclusion of the Crown case. Mr Anaru­ Emery was charged with manslaughter by unlawful act (dangerous driving). Crown case that Mr Anaru-Emery was the driver was circumstantial. Crown's expert forensic witness gave evidence at trial that the critical forensic evidence was "impact splatter stains" on the inside of the passenger' s windscreen and passenger dashboard. The expert's opinion was that the source of the blood stains was the person sitting in the passenger seat at the time of impact, and that they could not have been made by a person hitting the passenger windscreen at an angle. Mr Anaru-Emery's DNA was identified in the relevant blood stains (and none of the deceased's DNA). This, combined with the circumstantial nature of the Crown's case (no eyewitnesses identified him as the driver) raised a reasonable doubt that he was the driver, and a properly instructed jury could not reasonably conclude otherwise.

An application to also dismiss the kidnapping charge was declined. Leave was granted to amend the particulars of the kidnapping charge. The kidnapping charge included events that had occurred outside the vehicle. Confinement within the vehicle was not essential to the charge and the defence would not be prejudiced by an amendment.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 109
Date of Judgment
10 February 2020
Summary
Zespri holds the exclusive rights to two gold kiwifruit varieties, G3 and G9, under the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 ("the PVR Act"). Zespri alleged that from 2012 onwards Haoyu Gao, and his associated company Smiling Face Ltd had breached its exclusive rights by unlawfully exporting G3 and G9 to China, purporting to license G3 and G9 for the whole of China, and engaging in associated conduct that breached Zespri's exclusive PVR rights in G3 and G9. Zespri further alleged that such conduct breached a G3 licence agreement granted to Mr Gao and his wife Xia Xue, who were licensed by Zespri to grow G3 on their own orchard near Opotiki.HELD: Zespri succeeded on all three causes of action. Mr Gao and Smiling Face were found to have sold and expo1ted G3 and G9 to two growers based in China, following which G3 and G9 was planted on five orchards, some of which were substantial commercial operations. Mr Gao also purp01ted to licence a Chinese kiwifruit producer to grow G3 and G9 throughout China. Although the PVR Act does not have extraterritorial effect, actions taken by Mr Gao within New Zealand significantly diminished Zespri's enjoyment of its exclusive rights in G3 and G9 and therefore infringed the PVR Act. Damages of $14,894,100 awarded in respect of the first andsecond causes of action (against Mr Gao and Smiling Face respectively). Damages of$10,824,300 awarded in respect of the third cause of actions (against Mr Gao and Ms Xue jointly). (Total damages recovered are not to exceed $14,894,100).
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 99
Date of Judgment
07 February 2020
Summary
The Court sentenced Mr Pay to life imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of 1O years following the jury verdict finding Mr Pay guilty of the murder of Mr Fonoilaepa. The Court found there were no aggravating or mitigating factors which justified any amendment to the 10 year statutory position for murder with life imprisonment. Mr Pay was given his first strike warning. The Court also sentenced Mr Pay to three months' imprisonment for carrying an imitation firearm, and six months' imprisonment for possession of an offensive weapon and possession of ammunition, to be served concurrently.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 98
Date of Judgment
07 February 2020
Summary
Sentencing - offender had pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage and one charge of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception - the offender did not act for her own gain but to assist charitable entities to obtain funds from educational providers through fraudulent representations that educational courses had been provided by those entities when they had not - in total the charitable entities had obtained $1,3 million in his way- starting point four years imprisonment- reduction of 12 months (25 per cent) to reflect hitherto blameless character at the age of 61 years - further reduction of three months (five per cent) to reflect genuine remorse and nine months (25 per cent) to reflect guilty pleas entered six months before trial - end sentence of two years imprisonment converted to 12 months home detention.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 94
Date of Judgment
07 February 2020
Summary
Mr LB repeatedly raped a younger cousin when he was a teenager. Mr LB also repeatedly violated the victim with his fingers. The District Court imposed a sentence of home detention. The Solicitor-General appealed. She contended the District Court Judge erred and the sentence was manifestly inadequate. The High Court allowed the appeal, concluding the starting point was inadequate. It also concluded the discounts for mitigating features were excessive. It substituted a term of imprisonment of four years and three months.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 91
Date of Judgment
07 February 2020
Summary
Sentence of 11 months home detention, community work and reparation on a charge of aggravated burglary.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 68
Date of Judgment
04 February 2020
Summary
The defendants, Habulin, Scott, Cavallo and Northway pleaded guilty to the importation of cocaine and participation in an organised criminal group. The quantity of the drug and sophistication of the offending indicated it was near the most serious of its kind, warranting a deterrent sentence close to the maximum penalty available to the court, being life imprisonment. Mr Habulin was the most senior member of the operation in New Zealand, imported a larger quantity than the other offenders (76 kg) and was involved in the collection and distribution of the drug as well as the laundering of the related proceeds. A starting point of life imprisonment was adopted.  Minimal credit was provided for being a foreign national and for remorse, but this was insufficient to bring the starting point below life imprisonment. However, a 10 per cent deduction for guilty plea was warranted bringing the end sentence to 27 years and 6 months' imprisonment. Mr Scott also played a lead role in the offending, being involved in retrieving and protecting the cocaine, as well as distributing it and laundering the related proceeds. A starting point of 28 years' imprisonment was adopted. Deductions for serving a sentence as a foreign national and for guilty pleas were provided and resulted in an end sentence of 24 years' imprisonment. Mr Cavallo also played a senior role in the operation but did not undertake the same range of tasks carried out by Messrs Habulin and Sco tt. A starting point of27 years' imprisonment was adopted. A deduction for being a foreign national and for guilty pleas brought the end sentence to 23 years' imprisonment. Mr Northway was acknowledged as having a lesser role than his co-offenders warranting a starting point of 19 years' imprisonment. Deductions for his status as a foreign national, his remorse, and guilty pleas resulted in an end sentence of 14 years and 9 months' imprisonment. No minimum period of imprisonment beyond that provided for in the Parole Act was necessary for any of the defendants.