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 3309
Date of Judgment
03 December 2021
Summary
Claim in nuisance, declaration and permanent injunction sought in relation to the plaintiff accessing, to repair, a buckle in a major gas pipeline that runs onto the defendants' land.
Held: plaintiff is entitled to access and use the land to the extent prescribed purpose under the relevant legislation and instruments, including the repair of the pipeline and necessarily incidental acts. No arrangement or agreement, nor any  previous court decision, require a collaborative process  with the defendants  as a condition to the plaintiff's rights and  powers to access and  use the land  for the prescribed  purposes. No legislative or other requirements affect the  plaintiff's right of access and use of land  relating to repairing or carrying out other authorised works on the pipeline.
Declaration and permanent injunction giving effect to the findings granted.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3295
Date of Judgment
03 December 2021
Summary
Defendant sentenced for manslaughter and injuring with intent to injure  in relation to two fellow prison inmates. Starting point of 9 years for the lead manslaughter charge uplifted by 12 months for the injuring charge and 3 months for criminal record and offending subject to sentence. Discounts of 10% for youth, 20% for cultural reasons and 5% for remorse and rehabilitative prospects. Sentence of 6 years 8 months adjusted for totality to 4 years to be served cumulatively on the sentence currently being served.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3286
Date of Judgment
02 December 2021
Summary
Sentencing of Dilworth School Chaplain on 15 historical sex offence charges against 14 complainants (sexual violation by unlawful sexual connections; indecency with a boy under 12; indecency with a boy aged between 12 and 16; indecent assault on a boy).

Sentenced on historical principles; if sentenced according to contemporary principles, sentence would be greater.  Sexual violation lead charge, four year starting point.  Six year additional charges uplift.  Discounts of 25% for guilty plea, 5% for health/disability and 5% for restorative justice.  12 month concurrent sentence on objectionable material charge.  End sentence six years six months.  Placement on Child Sex Offender Register.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3252
Date of Judgment
01 December 2021
Summary
The High Court ordered the Commissioner of Police to give an undertaking to meet any losses caused by Proceeds of Crime restraining orders on properties of the Salters Cartage Ltd business. The Commissioner of Police applies for a stay of that order, pending his appeal to the Court of Appeal. The High Court declines the application because the interests of justice favour the Commissioner, rather Salters , bearing that risk for that period
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3168
Date of Judgment
24 November 2021
Summary
Dr Bailey's application for interim orders to stop a Medical Council disciplinary process is declined on the basis of the balance of convenience and interests of justice
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3154
Date of Judgment
22 November 2021
Summary
Successful judicial review by wider members of families associated with the New Zealand Defence Force seeking to flee Afghanistan to join their family here.COVID-19 border closure did not provide reason to refuse visas. Long-standing visa applications could not be refused for that reason. Act required applications to be assessed in accordance with instructions in effect when visa applications made.Applicants would have the same rights to enter New Zealand as any other residents once visas granted. Further errors in failing to apply humanitarian exceptions which applied to those in the position of the applicants. Immigration New Zealand directed to reconsider the grant of visas in accordance with law.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3096
Date of Judgment
18 November 2021
Summary
Civil claims following 1st defendant's sentencing for theft and deception regarding selling property (vintage aircraft and parts): unauthorised actions, use of employer's property and exposing the employer to liability.

Held: causes of action (COA) 1 to 4; breached specific fiduciary duties selling an aircraft as agent to third party by unauthorised profiting and accruing benefits by retaining funds; equitable tracing claim for Corsair aircraft dismissed, but equitable charge by subrogation ordered (of $720,000). COA 5-7, 9-10, 13-18:5th-7th, 9th-10th: various breaches of contract, agency, employee duties made out; claim for secret commission dismissed. Damages in excess of $2.6m together with interest were awarded.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3082
Date of Judgment
16 November 2021
Summary
Damages and costs. Mr Craig partly successful in defamation against Ms MacGregor and Ms MacGregor partly successful in defamation against Mr Craig. Mr Craig sought only declaration, which was granted; costs under s 24 of the Defamation Act 1992 reserved. Ms MacGregor sought compensatory damages and punitive damages. Damages awarded to Ms MacGregor in sum of $400,000. Punitive damages not available in this case. Both parties had some success on their claims. Mr Craig entitled to reasonable disbursements under s 24 adjusted to reflect limited success. Ms MacGregor entitled to 2B costs on successful counterclaim and by approximation 50 per cent of scale costs attributed to counterclaim.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3071
Date of Judgment
12 November 2021
Summary
NZDSOS and NZTSOS challenge the order requiring health and medical practitioners to be vaccinated in order to continue to work. They apply for interim orders preserving their position, which will be heard on 22 November 2021. Until then, they apply for interim interim orders preserving their position. That application is declined on the basis the merits of the argument are not likely to be particularly strong, and the balance of convenience does not favour interim interim orders for the next week.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3064
Date of Judgment
12 November 2021
Summary
Four midwives, NZDSOS and NZTSOS challenge the order requiring them to be vaccinated against COVID-19. They argue the order is not legally valid because the Act does not empower it to be made, if interpreted consistently with the right to refuse medical treatment under the Bill of Rights and the principle of legality. A second cause of action of NZDSOS and NZTSOS, that the Order is invalid because it is not a reasonable and justified limit on the right under s 5 of the Bill of Rights, has yet to be heard.

The words of the Act encompass the power to require a person not to associate with others unless vaccinated, and to be vaccinated in order to engage in an activity. Interpreting the empowering provision in light of its purpose and context does not detract from that. The right to refuse to undergo medical treatment under s 11 of the Bill of Rights is engaged here. No order can be made under the empowering provision that limits the right unless it is reasonable, prescribed by law and can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s 5 of the Bill of Rights. In this case, the applicants do not argue the Order is an unjustified limit. The Bill of Rights does not require the usual purposive interpretation of empowering provision to be narrowed to mean that the Order is outside its scope. Indeed, the text of the Act explicitly indicates that Parliament envisaged that orders may be made which limit rights under the Bill of Rights, as long as the limits are justified under s 5. The common law principle of legality, which requires legislative limitations on fundamental rights to be clearly expressed, does not require a different interpretation.

The application is declined. The four midwives are anonymised in the judgment and their court file is not to be searched without permission of a Judge, for three years, to preserve their effective exercise of the right of access to justice, in light of concerns for them and their family members deriving from current social division.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 3012
Date of Judgment
08 November 2021
Summary
Challenge to Order requiring Aviation Security Service employees to be vaccinated dismissed. Order was within empowering provision notwithstanding the provision made no reference to vaccination as it helped to minimise the risk of outbreak or spread of COVID-19. Order limited the applicants rights to refuse to undergo medical treatment, but this was demonstrably justified under the Bill of Rights as vaccination contributed to minimising the risk of outbreak or spread. The Minister had not failed to take into account relevant considerations, or made an irrational decision. The Court commented on the desirability of vaccination mandates being addressed by primary legislation.
Media Release
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2942
Date of Judgment
01 November 2021
Summary
Māori health provider Te Pou Matakana/Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency sought judicial review of Ministry of Health decision not to provide individual data of unvaccinated Māori, to enable targeted delivery of COVID-19 vaccination services.
Court upheld two grounds: Ministry incorrectly applied rule 11(2)(d) of Health Information Privacy Code 2020, in particular it applied the wrong test as to whether disclosure of the information was necessary; and WOCA had a legitimate expectation that the Ministry's decision would be made in accordance with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, informed by tikanga, but it was not.

Ministry's decision set aside and Ministry directed to remake decision .
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2918
Date of Judgment
29 October 2021
Summary
Two defendants sentenced for injuring with intent to injure while inmates in prison. Starting point for both two years imprisonment, uplifted by three months for criminal histories. Defendant N uplifted by six months for a second charge. Defendant N's sentence also discounted by 10% for his guilty plea, 7% for youth, 5% for rehabilitative effort and 10% for cultural reasons. Defendant T's sentence discounted by 10% for his guilty plea, 5% for youth. End sentences of 23 and 22 months' imprisonment for N and T respectively.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2913
Date of Judgment
29 October 2021
Summary
Unsuccessful application for interim injunction preventing a Treaty of Waitangi Deed of Settlement being signed. Plaintiffs represented a hapu of Ngāti Kahungnu who had an application for resumption before the Waitangi Tribunal, and who had recently been given special leave to appeal to the Supreme Court from High Court decision on a judicial review claim challenging this preliminary decision of the Tribunal. Ngāti Kahungnu were about to settle Treaty claims by signing Deed of Settlement the following day. Plaintiffs' claims largely held not to involve serious issues to be tried, and balance of convenience and overall interests of justice meant the interim injunction should not be granted.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2905
Date of Judgment
29 October 2021
Summary
Sentencing. Mr Waitokia pleaded guilty to one charge of injuring with intent to injure, and one charge of aggravated assault.

End sentence of one year and 11 months imprisonment imposed. Starting point of three years, with uplift of 6 months for aggravated assault charge. Uplift for previous offending would be disproportionate. Full guilty plea discount, 15 percent for social and cultural deprivation, and 5 percent discount for engagement in the restorative justice process and willingness to address offending.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2897
Date of Judgment
29 October 2021
Summary
Mr Bolton and his partner had applied for an exemption from isolation in an MIQ facility and instead proposed to self-isolate at home under strict conditions . MBIE declined the application. Mr Bolton and his partner's application for judicial review was successful. The references to "other needs" in clause 12 of the Isolation and Quarantine Order were to be interpreted more broadly than just medical needs as MBIE had done in declining the application. 

MBIE had made an error of law in saying that exceptional circumstances were required under clause 12 and in considering the application on the basis that the "other needs" were restricted to medical needs. As a result, MBIE had also failed to take into account a number of relevant considerations . 

Decision set aside. The respondents were directed to reconsider the application taking into account a number of relevant factors and balancing them against the risk of spread of COVID-19 having regard to the applicants' proposed precautions and current community circumstances.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2869
Date of Judgment
28 October 2021
Summary
Results judgment. Application to judicially review decision declining request for exemption from MIQ and instead to self-isolate at home. Application granted. Respondents directed to reconsider the application. Reasons to follow.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2882
Date of Judgment
26 October 2021
Summary
Sentencing on one charge of murder by striking the victim, the defendant's flatmate, in the head with a hammer while he was lying in his bed.
Held: a sentence of life imprisonment is not manifestly unjust. The s 104 factor of vulnerability is engaged, however, nothing the findings of the mental health and cultural reports, a minimum period of imprisonment (MPI) of 17 years would be manifestly unjust.
Taking into account those reports and victims impact statements from the victim's family and friend and all other relevant circumstances, including the defendant's letter of apology and late guilty plea, an MPI of 10 years is set.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2752
Date of Judgment
14 October 2021
Summary
Appeal allowed. Court accepted that appellant, who was born with spina bifida, had cover for treatment injury under the Accident Compensation Act 2001, where the existence of the spina bifida should have been detected during mother’s pregnancy at the 20-week scan and, if it had been detected, the mother would have elected to terminate the pregnancy. Court held that misdiagnosis of the scan and failure to offer option to elect termination amounted to a failure in treatment for the fetus, as well as for the mother, that led to a continuation of the pregnancy and the spina bifida. In that sense, the treatment failure caused the injuries of the child once born. To hold that termination was not “treatment” of the fetus under the Act was not required by the language of the Act and was not consistent with the “no-fault” principle on which the Act is based. Court held that “wrongful life” cases decided in other jurisdictions had no application in New Zealand’s circumstances.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2747
Date of Judgment
14 October 2021
Summary
Sentencing for manslaughter following guilty verdict at trial. Offending when drunk offender (49) attacked vulnerable victim (77) causing extensive injuries leading to fatal bronchial pneumonia. Offender denied responsibility. Offending placed in upper band 2/lower band 3 Taueki, aggravated by attacks to the head, vulnerability, extreme violence and extensive loss (death}. Starting point of nine years' imprisonment. Six month uplift for history of violent offending. 12 month discount for personal circumstances. Nine month discount  for two years and four months spent on EM bail. End sentence seven years nine months' imprisonment. 50 per cent MPI imposed.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2726
Date of Judgment
12 October 2021
Summary
Applications by seven groups for order recognising customary marine title (Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 (“MACA”), ss 58 and 106) in respect of Te Tāhuna o Rangataua, an estuary in Tauranga Harbour.  Applicants sought to be included in single joint title held by entity to be known as Ngā Pāpaka o Rangataua. Elements of test for customary marine title as outlined in MACA and previous decisions comprising two limbs: holding application area in accordance with tikanga, and exclusive use and occupation without substantial interruption from 1840 to present day or acquisition of land after 1840 through customary transfer (s 58(1)).

Found that no requirement for applicants to hold area in a “proprietary” manner to meet first limb; holding must be determined according to tikanga rather than European concepts of ownership.  In relation to second limb, exclusive use and occupation to exclusion of all others unnecessary as test in reality only requires authority giving rise to ability or intention to exclude others; what constitutes exclusive use and occupation must be assessed with reference to particular tikanga.

Held:  Unequivocal evidence supporting grant of customary marine title to five of the applicants (Ngā Pōtiki, Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Hē, Ngāi Tukairangi and Ngāti Tapū).  Order not opposed by Crown or any other interested party and clear applicants held and continue to hold area in accordance with tikanga since historical occupation some 300 years ago and requisite level of use and occupation maintained without substantial interruption (s 58(1)(b)) displayed by strong whakapapa links, active customary practices and exercises of role as kaitiaki to protect and preserve the area.

Evidence insufficient to support inclusion of the other two applicants (Ngāti Ruahine and Ngāi Te Ahi) in that title. Virtually no information presented to demonstrate how Ngāti Ruahine met s 58 criteria. While Ngāi Te Ahi exercises customary rights over Te Tāhuna o Rangataua, insufficient evidence to show rights exercised in own right rather than through close links with Ngāti Hē.  Applications dismissed.  Court noted Ngāi Te Ahi’s exercise of mahinga kai rights may give rise to grant of protected customary rights (s 51) and leave reserved should Ngāi Te Ahi wish to apply for s 51 order.

Court also found customary rights in foreshore of Te Tāhuna o Rangataua not extinguished by Tauranga Foreshore Vesting and Endowment Act 1915 due to Act’s failure to identify foreshore said to be vested in Tauranga Harbour Board because legislation insufficiently explicit to have extinguished Māori customary rights.  In any event, even if Act had extinguished rights, those rights revived by Foreshore and Seabed Endowment Revesting Act 1991.
Directions issued as to procedure for finalising draft order.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2690
Date of Judgment
08 October 2021
Summary
Mr Woolley alleged Fonterra was in breach of the supply contract by not collecting milk from his farm in the 2014/5 season.  His principal point was that once he had complied with the terms of an enforcement order, Fonterra was not entitled to maintain its suspension on milk collection and that it exercised its discretion to do so unreasonably.

HC held: Mr Woolley's claim fails for four reasons: Mr Woolley remained in breach of the enforcement order, Fonterra did not exercise its discretion unreasonably, its notice of suspension was properly issued and effective, and Mr Woolley's own conduct is a necessary pre­ condition of his claimed loss.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2666
Date of Judgment
06 October 2021
Summary
Sentencing for charges of vehicular manslaughter and dealing class A and B controlled drugs. Aggravating features of the lead manslaughter charge were prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving, consumption of drugs and alcohol, aggressive driving and driving when knowingly deprived of sleep. Starting point of six and a half years uplifted by six months for drug charges. Global discount of 33 per cent given for mitigating features of early guilty plea, remorse, personal circumstances and injuries suffered in the offending. Final sentence four years eight months. Disqualified from driving for three years.
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2615
Date of Judgment
01 October 2021
Summary
Sentencing notes of Ms Bracken who assisted Mr Epiha to leave the scene after the shooting of Constable Hunt. 12 months' imprisonment.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2526
Date of Judgment
24 September 2021
Summary
Unsuccessful application for judicial review of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021. 

The Order was delegated legislation validly made pursuant to section 9 of the Public Health Response Act 2020. The Associate Minister of Health was authorised to sign the Order by section 7 of the Constitution Act 1986. The process for creating the Order met all the prerequisites contained in the empowering act and the Order itself. The Order did not contain an unlawful right to override primary legislation. To the extent that the Order infringed the rights protected by ss 11 and 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the infringement was no more than was justified in a free and democratic society. In judicial review proceedings it was not appropriate for the Court to second-guess the policy decisions made by the Minister. Those decisions were logical and rational on the basis of the available evidence.
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2454
Date of Judgment
20 September 2021
Summary
A judgment refusing the plaintiffs' application for an order that, should Southern Response enter into any settlements with class members who opt out of the proceeding, a sum representing 15 per cent of the settlement should be set aside as money which could later go towards the plaintiffs' litigation and funding costs. The High Court holds that the balance of convenience  is against requiring any part of such settlement funds to be set aside.
Media Release
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2453
Date of Judgment
20 September 2021
Summary
A judgment dealing with an amended application of Southern Response in relation to its proposed communications with class members. Southern Response's communications are considered and forms are approved subject to some amendment. Directions are made as to timing.
Media Release
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2452
Date of Judgment
20 September 2021
Summary
A "notification" judgment, identifying the Court's requirements in relation to the notice which the plaintiffs must provide to all class members about their rights to opt out. The judgment deals with matters of form, content, timing and distribution. Directions are made in relation to those matters and the Court approves a number of forms. The opt-out date is identified as 20 December 2021.
Media Release
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2451
Date of Judgment
20 September 2021
Summary
A decision providing detailed reasons as to the Court's powers to supervise communications between the defendant (Southern Response) and the class members.
Media Release
Case name
Case number
[2021] NZHC 2450
Date of Judgment
17 September 2021
Summary
Sentencing of Nathan Frost for double murder of his father and half-brother.  Sentence of life imprisonment on each charge with MPI of 20 years.