New Zealand: Upcoming amendments to the High Court and District Court Rules

Last Updated: 3 September 2017
Article by Jonathan Scragg

On Friday, 1 September 2017, a number of amendments to the High Court Rules and District Court Rules come into effect. The amendments will be of interest to all civil litigation lawyers and parties involved in such disputes before the Courts.

Without notice applications

The Rules dealing with without notice applications have been overhauled. They now clarify the grounds required for an application to be made without notice, and specifically require the applicant to make all reasonable enquiries and take all reasonable steps to ensure that the documents contain all relevant material, including any defence that would be relied on by the other party.

The amended Rules will also require the applicant to file a memorandum with a without notice application, if the application is one that the respondent is likely to have contested if the application were on notice. The memorandum will need to set out:

  • the background to the matter,
  • the grounds on which the orders are sought,
  • an explanation of those grounds, and
  • all information known to the applicant that is relevant to the application, including any known grounds of opposition or defence, or any facts that would support an opposition or defence.

High Court statements of claim

Statements of claim or counterclaim issued in the High Court will need to include on their cover page the name of the relevant registry in te reo Maori as well as in English.

This change will also apply to judgments or orders in the High Court, as the Rules require them to have a cover page in the same form as a statement of claim.

Commercial panel

Rules have been added to constitute the commercial panel in the High Court and allow it to commence operating.

The commercial panel is a replacement for the old commercial list, which ended when the Senior Courts Act 2016 came into force. Certain Judges will be assigned to the commercial panel, and if a proceeding is allocated to the commercial panel it will be case managed by an allocated panel Judge through its entire life.

Protests to jurisdiction

The Rules relating to protests to jurisdiction have been clarified. They now state that if the court is satisfied that it has no jurisdiction it must dismiss the proceeding, and that if it does not dismiss the proceeding it must set aside the appearance. This change ensures that the onus is on the defendant to show that there is no jurisdiction to hear the claim.

High Court case management

The High Court has found that the vast majority of first case management conferences are being adjourned, as orders are made on the papers based on memoranda agreed by the parties. The Rules are being amended to reflect this process, so that court resources are not used inefficiently by allocating conferences that are not required.

The first step will now be a case management review (with joint or separate memoranda setting out the usual matters) where everything is dealt with on the papers. A case management conference will only be allocated if the Judge decides that one is necessary after the case management review.

Witnesses who will not provide a brief of evidence

From time to time, parties at a hearing wish to call witnesses who for various reasons have been unwilling to provide a brief of evidence. While the subpoena (or witness summons) process has always existed as a way of requiring that witness to attend court, the result has been that the other party may be unaware of the purpose of that witness's evidence.

The Rules are being amended to set out the requirements that have been established in case law, namely that a party intending to call a witness who has not given a brief must give notice to the other party and the court, setting out:

  • the name of the intended witness;
  • the steps taken to attempt to obtain a brief;
  • the reasons for the intended witness not providing a brief;
  • an explanation of the relevance of the evidence of the intended witness; and
  • details of the evidence that the intended witness is expected to give.

High Court close of pleadings date

The High Court Rules have been amended to include a default date for the close of pleadings, if no other date is fixed by the Judge. This default date is the later of 60 working days (12 weeks) before a hearing and the date on which the hearing is allocated.

Costs and disbursements

The Rules relating to costs and disbursements have been amended to allow a party to be awarded costs for legal services, or to claim disbursements for expert witness fees, even where there is a conditional fee arrangement.

Access to court documents

The Rules relating to access to court documents have been simplified and clarified. It is now easier to work out which documents may be accessed as of right, and by whom, and which documents will require a specific request. There is also more guidance provided about how Judges are to balance the different considerations when assessing those requests.

Striking out proceedings before service

The High Court Rules are being amended to allow the Registrar to refer proceedings that he or she considers to be an abuse of process to a Judge when the proceedings are filed, before returning the documents to the plaintiff for service.

If the Judge is satisfied that the proceedings are an abuse of process, he or she may strike out or stay the proceedings even before they are served, and can order that the documents not be returned to the plaintiff for service.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions