New Zealand updates


Contributed by Wilson Harle
Cryptocurrencies as property
  • New Zealand
  • 13 October 2020

The NZ High Court recently held that cryptocurrency constitutes property at common law and is therefore capable of being held on trust. The decision has brought welcome certainty to the legal status of cryptocurrency in New Zealand and will give more comfort to those trading in cryptocurrencies throughout the country. Recognition of cryptocurrency as property is an important step in clarifying rights and obligations surrounding cryptocurrency.

Contractual interpretation revisited
  • New Zealand
  • 06 October 2020

In what may turn out to be a landmark decision, the Court of Appeal recently signalled a narrowing of the approach to contractual interpretation, reducing the relevance of evidence from outside a contract to determine its meaning. Two of the issues on appeal concerned the meaning of a sale agreement and its 2012 amendment, bringing issues of contractual interpretation to the forefront of the analysis.

Court of Appeal confirms right to cancel insurance contract for fraudulent claims
  • New Zealand
  • 29 September 2020

A recent Court of Appeal decision highlights the consequences which flow from an insured providing dishonest information in support of an insurance claim. It is the first appellate-level consideration of the fraudulent claims rule in New Zealand and confirms both that the duty of utmost good faith is an implied contractual term and that the legislative framework in the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 governs remedies for breach.

Contractual penalties: Supreme Court confirms New Zealand's adoption of recast penalty rule
  • New Zealand
  • 21 July 2020

At first instance and then on appeal, the High Court and the Court of Appeal adopted a recast rule against contractual penalties, reflecting developments in England and Australia. The Supreme Court has now delivered its judgment, confirming New Zealand's adoption of the recast rule and clarifying the test and its relationship with concepts of unconscionability and the relative bargaining power of the parties.

First judicial consideration of COVID-19 decisions
  • New Zealand
  • 26 May 2020

The High Court recently issued a decision on a judicial review application which challenged the lawfulness of exemption decisions made pursuant to an order under the Health Act and sought urgent interim relief. The decision was the first consideration by the court of the lawfulness of actions taken during the exercise of the sweeping powers assumed by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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