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24 March 2009
On February 1 2009 a new set of High Court procedural rules came into effect. Although there are relatively few substantial changes, the significant amendments for international practitioners include changes to the rules on service of persons outside New Zealand and the court's increased powers to grant interim measures in support of overseas judgments.
The High Court is established under the Judicature Act 1908, which preserved for the court all the legal, equitable and probate jurisdiction held by the superior UK courts in 1860. This jurisdiction was originally vested in New Zealand courts by the Supreme Court Act 1860. The High Court has civil and criminal jurisdiction; the civil procedures are governed by Schedule 2 of the Judicature Act 1908, known as the High Court Rules.
The rules have been significantly revised several times. The principal aim of the recent reworking was not to introduce major procedural changes, but rather to make the rules more logically organized, more accessible and easier to understand. The rules are now presented in 33 parts and are numbered by reference to both part and rule number. They have been expressed in plain English - Latin phrases such as ex parte have been replaced by their English equivalents. References to legal principles by their founding cases, such as Browne v Dunn and Anton Piller, have also been removed.
The new rules apply to new and ongoing proceedings. The changes include the following:
The main guiding principle of the changes appears to be improving access to justice, as evidenced by the logical reorganization for greater clarity, the use of plain English and the plan to improve case management in future. The new rules are the first stage in a comprehensive review of High Court procedures and more substantive changes in relation to case management, evidence and judicial review are expected soon.
For further information on this topic please contact Chris Browne or Felicity Monteiro at Wilson Harle by telephone (+64 9 915 5700) or by fax (+64 9 915 5701) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
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