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22 March 2011
In February 2011 the prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, visited New Zealand in the interests of strengthening economic relations between the two countries. This objective will be further assisted by the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010, which was recently passed into law in New Zealand. The act implements New Zealand's obligations under a cooperation agreement that was signed with Australia in July 2008. A corresponding Australian act has also been passed and both acts will come into force at some future date. The act is intended to make it easier for individuals and businesses to resolve trans-Tasman legal disputes through court process and to support closer economic relations between the two countries by strengthening commercial regulatory enforcement. It will make trans-Tasman litigation different from New Zealand litigation involving parties in other countries.
With some minor differences, the corresponding Australian act provides for the same in Australia.
The act will bring the two jurisdictions closer together and support the steps being made by the two governments towards closer economic relations. The procedural changes to trans-Tasman civil proceedings will simplify the process for disputes of this nature, with each country having ceded a degree of legal sovereignty on a mutual basis.
The extent of the changes in strengthening regulatory enforcement is still unknown, as it is unclear which civil penalties or criminal regulatory fines will be included in (or excluded from) the regulations. However, in view of the significant penalties and fines that can be imposed for anti-competitive conduct, the further easing of procedural and jurisdictional constraints on cross-border enforcement means that directors and managers of companies with a trans-Tasman dimension will have even greater reason to exercise care about their conduct in both markets.
For further information on this topic please contact Chris Browne or Shaun Maloney at Wilson Harle by telephone (+64 9 915 5700), fax (+64 9 915 5701) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
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