New Zealand: New legislation and other legal consultation papers in New Zealand

Last Updated: 6 February 2014

Bills before Parliament on which submissions are being sought include:

Harmful Digital Communications Bill. The Bill provides measures to deal with harmful digital communications and includes a new civil enforcement regime, new criminal offences to deal with the most serious harmful digital communications, and amendments to existing legislation. Submissions due 21 February 2014.

Judicature Modernisation Bill. The Bill provides for a wide range of matters relating to the administration of the Courts including the appointment of judges, judicial reporting, meritless proceedings, electronic operation of court processes, court powers to award interest on money claims, procedural matters relating to civil appeals between the High Court and the Court of Appeal, arbitration procedures, and online publication of final written judgements. The Bill also proposes to re-enact the rules for judicial review. Submissions due 21 February 2014.

Accounting Infrastructure Amendment Bill. The Bill makes changes to the regulation of accountants and auditors. Changes include widening the range of people competent to perform an audit, enabling more people who are competent to perform statutory accountancy functions to do so, reducing restrictions on the legal form of audit firms, introducing a requirement for independent assurance of financial statements for medium-sized and large charities, and allowing the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) to restructure itself. Submissions due 3 March 2014.

Local Government Amendment Bill (No. 3). The Bill makes various changes relating to local government processes and governance arrangements, decision-making and charging practices, and asset management. The main changes are additions to the process for transferring regional council functions to territorial authorities and vice versa, allowing the creation of local boards as part of local government reorganisation under the Local Government Commission, changes to consultation requirements, amendments to requirements for development contributions, and provision for development agreements. Submissions are due on 14 February 2014.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill has been introduced but submissions have not yet been called The Bill proposes a range of new measures relating to earthquake-prone buildings, including a requirement for territorial authorities to assess the seismic capacity of existing buildings, requiring that work on earthquake-prone buildings is undertaken within 20 years, and enabling territorial authorities (that are building consent authorities) to issue building consents for earthquake strengthening work without requiring other upgrades (e.g. for access and facilities for people with disabilities and for means of escape from fire).

The Overseas Investment (Owning our Own Rural Land) Amendment Bill, a private members Bill, has been introduced by Hon Phil Goff. The aim of the Bill is to amend the Overseas Investment Act 2005 to limit the sale of rural land to foreign buyers. The Bill has not yet been referred to Select Committee. The government is likely to oppose the Bill and it is possible it may be voted down before the Select Committee stage.

Other consultation

Other consultation on legal issues currently underway includes:

Financial Markets Conduct Regulations. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is currently consulting on further regulations under the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013. The draft regulations provide for the governance regime, regulations relating to financial product markets, and conduct obligations for discretionary investment management services. Feedback is requested by 14 March 2014, with the regulations intended to come into force in mid-2014.

Fair Insurance Code. The Insurance Council is seeking submissions in its review of the Fair Insurance Code. The Code sets out principles for insurance companies' dealings with customers and claims, complaints procedures, and also deal with catastrophes and disasters. All members of the Insurance Council must comply with the Fair Insurance Code. Submissions on the review are due by 1 March 2014.

Loan-to-value restrictions. The Reserve Bank is consulting on the operation of an exemption from the loan-to-value (LVR) restrictions. The consultation focusses on the exemption of new residential construction. Submissions on the consultation paper are due by 14 February 2014.

The online version of our statute book, at legislation.govt.nz, is now official.

Legislation.co.nz has long been available and a useful reference point. However, it could not be relied on as being an authoritative statement of legislation, which is especially important in litigation and some other situations when giving advice.

The Legislation Act 2012 remedies that, recognising the online version as official. This will save considerable time and effort for lawyers in checking hard copy versions of legislation.

The delay in implementation since the Legislation Act was passed has occurred becuase the Parliamentary Counsel Office has been undertaking the essential task of cross-checking an enormous amount of legislation to ensure the online versions are correct.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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