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Knowledge

Fair Pay Agreements: How employers can prepare for the process

Thursday 1 December, 2022

The country’s largest employment law change in decades could fundamentally change New Zealand’s employment landscape. But how does an employer know when the bargaining begins and how can they get prepared?

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Snapshot on fast-track consenting

Tuesday 29 November, 2022

The Government’s proposal to make fast-track consenting (FTC) a permanent option in our future consenting regime is a good news story in the Natural and Built Environment Bill introduced last week. Judging by demand, the FTC regime has clearly provided a sought-after and much needed consenting option for projects that could not necessarily satisfy ...

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Fair Pay Agreements: All about the Agreements

Tuesday 29 November, 2022

The country’s largest employment law change in decades has the potential to create higher wages and better conditions for employees across New Zealand. Taking effect on 1 December, 2022, the Fair Pay Agreements Act could fundamentally change New Zealand’s employment landscape by setting minimum terms and conditions for all employees in a particular...

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Snapshot on Emergency/Social Housing

Tuesday 22 November, 2022

The effects of emergency and social housing, both positive and adverse, are currently the subject of heated debate in many of our communities. Amplified by local and national economies emerging into a post-COVID world and an increasing focus on residential density through a suite of plan changes, it is understandable that the Government wishes to l...

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Will 16-year-olds be voting at the next election?

Monday 21 November, 2022

In a huge win for New Zealand youth, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Government has not justified preventing 16 and 17-year-olds from voting. This landmark decision is the high point in a three-year campaign by Make it 16 to lower the voting age to 16.

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Better access to UK market getting closer for NZ exporters

Tuesday 15 November, 2022

New Zealand exporters are one step closer to greater access to the United Kingdom market, after Parliament passed legislation enabling New Zealand to implement its obligations under the comprehensive NZ-UK free trade agreement that it signed on 28 February, 2022

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Moving the Agenda for Local Government Along

Wednesday 9 November, 2022

The Review into the Future for Local Government (2022) He mata whāriki, he matawhānui: Draft Report was released at the end of October, just as newly elected councillors around the country were making their statutory declarations and reflecting on the inaugural meetings for the 2022 – 2025 term of office.

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Gear up now for a new whistleblower law

Wednesday 2 November, 2022

Whistleblower legislation has been updated for the first time in 22 years to protect people who come forward and report serious wrongdoing in the workplace. The Protected Disclosures Act 2022 is a positive change for New Zealand and should instil greater confidence in employees that workplace issues will be dealt with through a robust process.

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Five rules for building a resilient business

Wednesday 26 October, 2022

Everyone in business knows that tough times are part of the financial landscape. Downturns have happened before, and they will come again. How do you strengthen a company to withstand the coming pressure? Is it possible to set a business up to thrive when the economic landscape shifts?

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Don't let the future run you over

Tuesday 25 October, 2022

Welcome to all newly elected and re-elected mayors, chairs, councillors, local and community board members. I am by nature an impatient person. Yet I have been patiently waiting through every cycle of local government since the commencement of the Local Government Act 2002 for strong and motivated elected members to take up the challenge of promoti...

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The $4 million filing error

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

A 34-year-old resource consent, improperly stored and poorly searched for, recently cost Whangarei District Council over $4 million in damages. Failure to locate the consent led WDC to issue numerous inaccurate documents to Mr Daisley, the owner of a quarry in Northland. The Court found WDC had breached its duties to store and provide the resource ...

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Proposed mandatory consideration of specific Māori representation

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

On 2 August 2022, the House heard the first reading of the Local Government Electoral Legislation Bill, an omnibus bill that looks to make several changes to the way that Local Government is organised and elected. The changes proposed in the Bill can be summarised as follows ...

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Is a kiwifruit licence part of the rateable value?

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

A recent High Court case approving a new approach to valuing gold kiwifruit orchards for rating purposes will interest councils with gold kiwifruit orchards within their boundaries. This case was a test case in which the Gisborne District Council appealed a Land Valuation Tribunal decision that the value of a licence to grow SunGold kiwifruit shou...

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Cracking the Code: Challenges to Council Codes of Conduct

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

Two local councils’ processes for dealing with breaches of Codes of Conduct for elected members have recently been subject to legal scrutiny, emphasising the importance of due process and natural justice in council controlled complaints mechanisms.

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Consent to consenting: The limits of written approval

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

Even the best-laid plans can change and a resource application may go through multiple changes before the final version is lodged with Council. But things can get tricky if the changes mean that the lodged application is different to the application approved by affected parties. But how far does this approval stretch when the resource consent appli...

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“I’ve changed my mind” – The Implications of a Buoyant Labour Market

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

Currently some employees (or prospective employees) looking for work have many options to choose from. Businesses are having to manage a buoyant labour market, where labour is in demand and businesses are competing for staff. Some businesses have benefited from this, while it has led to frustration for others.

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Declarations that an Enactment Inconsistent with Bill of Rights

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

After languishing for the last couple of years, the Government sponsored New Zealand Bill of Rights (Declarations of Inconsistency) Amendment Bill (the Bill) has passed into law. In a rare display of cooperation, the Privileges Committee recommended unanimously that it be passed with all amendments agreed.

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Will proposed changes lead to better streets?

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

Waka Kotahi- the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is proposing changes that may make it easier for councils to make roading changes. NZTA has released the Reshaping Streets proposal for consultation. The proposed changes include...

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When the rubber hits the road - All aboard Aotearoa's challenge

Tuesday 11 October, 2022

In his recent decision dismissing the challenge by All Aboard Aotearoa Inc to the Auckland Regional Land Transport Plan 2021, Justice Venning considered the purpose of the Land Transport Management Act, and what a plan must do to contribute to that purpose and to be consistent with the Government Policy Statement under that same Act.

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Do you own cryptocurrency? Here's what happens to it during a separation

Monday 10 October, 2022

How do you value property when its value can fluctuate within minutes, if not seconds? In 2020, the High Court held that digital assets, such as cryptocurrency, are classified as property.
This means that if you (or your partner) acquired cryptocurrencies during your de facto relationship, marriage, or civil union then you need to disclose it, a...

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Local government on the edge

Monday 10 October, 2022

Local government is awash with change. As much as the weather is a constant reminder that climate change is upon us, the raft of central government policies and workstreams impacting local bodies reinforces the subordinate nature of the sector.

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Changes to Post-Study Work Visa

Thursday 6 October, 2022

The New Zealand border re-opening means International Students are now returning to New Zealand. Historically, many international students want to stay and work in New Zealand once they complete their studies. However, Immigration New Zealand has now tightened the rules around Post-Study Work Visas making this popular visa less flexible. The change...

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Increased copyright protection for artists under NZ-EU FTA

Monday 12 September, 2022

On June 30, 2022, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade published the New Zealand - EU Free Trade Agreement (NZ-EU FTA), following a four-year negotiation. Under the chapter on intellectual property, the agreement extends copyright protection terms for authors, performers and producers from 50 to 70 years.

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Simple mistakes wipe out immigration visas

Wednesday 7 September, 2022

Work visa applications are being declined because of simple mistakes. As employers struggled to find staff, work visa rules and Immigration New Zealand's new Accredited Employer Work Visa Scheme (AEWV) were meant to smooth the way. However, the road paved with good intentions has been rocky. Applications for accreditation and job checks have been l...

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Artists to receive royalties on resale

Tuesday 23 August, 2022

It is a common complaint from artists that they do not benefit when their work is resold, even if the art has significantly increased in value since the original sale. From late 2024, this is set to change, with artists receiving a 5% royalty payment every time their work is resold.

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New Zealand has its first National Adaptation Plan

Tuesday 23 August, 2022

The Government has adopted a two-pronged response to climate change: ‘mitigation’ (i.e., reducing emissions) and ‘adaptation’ (learning to adapt to climate induced environmental change).

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Important information for businesses that use standard form B2B contracts

Thursday 18 August, 2022

The Commerce Commission now has the power to seek declarations from the courts that a term in a standard form business-to-business (B2B) contract is unfair as an Unfair Contract Term, or UCT, following an amendment to the Fair Trading Act 1986 (FTA) effective now.

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An opportunity for metro council local alcohol policies?

Tuesday 19 July, 2022

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act came into force almost ten years ago. Local Alcohol Policies were to be a key component of the new ‘harm minimisation’ approach. Communities were to be given a voice on issues like outlet density and proximity to sensitive sites like schools.

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Court and councils swamped with wetland rules

Wednesday 13 July, 2022

Planning authorities can find it highly challenging when just before their proposed plans become fully operative, new national policy direction, standards or regulations are enacted. This is especially a source of frustration (and cost) if their plans will be in conflict with the newly introduced, higher-order planning instruments.

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Fair Pay Agreements Bill

Wednesday 13 July, 2022

The Government has introduced the Fair Pay Agreements Bill. This will become law only after being granted “Royal Assent” following a parliamentary process. If the FPA Bill does become law, this has the potential to affect any industry or occupation in New Zealand. Employees and employers alike will be affected by this, including those in the local...

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Time waits for no-one

Wednesday 13 July, 2022

In 2021, Auckland Council was sued for negligence in its role as building consent authority in relation to a building with various defects. The relevant acts (building consent and code compliance certificate (CCC)) had taken place in 2012 and 2013.

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No need to get bogged down in natural wetland definition… yet

Wednesday 13 July, 2022

Te Ara o Te Ata is the proposed new six-kilometre stretch of State Highway 3 north of New Plymouth. The resource consents and notice of requirement to alter the designation for the current route of State Highway 3 have been subject to numerous appeals since 2018.

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AEW Visa: Job check applications opened 20 June

Tuesday 5 July, 2022

The second stage of Immigration New Zealand’s Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) opened on 20 June 2022. This is the Job Check stage, which allows employers to have roles they wish to fill with migrants checked by Immigration New Zealand before a migrant applies for the final visa. Job check approvals will last for six months. Migrants will be...

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New Regime for Protected Disclosures (Whistleblower legislation)

Wednesday 29 June, 2022

Protection for those who report matters of serious wrongdoing within an organisation has been in place since the commencement of the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, but that legislation has been reviewed and those protections expanded and strengthened. The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022 commences on 1 July 2022, and c...

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Park and (don't) ride

Thursday 9 June, 2022

Businesses along the route of a partly-built Wellington cycleway are taking Wellington City Council to Court to challenge the decision to install it. They were successful in halting construction until September, when their case will have a full Court hearing.

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Three Waters reform under way

Wednesday 8 June, 2022

On Thursday 2 June, the Water Services Entities Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill will implement the Government’s decisions to establish four public entities to take on the delivery of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services across New Zealand from July 2024.

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Greater protections for whistleblowers

Monday 23 May, 2022

Whistleblowing can be a highly effective way to expose wrongdoing and coverups in both the public and private sectors. However, whistleblowing can come at a significant cost for the whistle-blower, putting their job, and potentially their career, at risk. Parliament has just passed a law increasing protections for whistle-blowers who make a protect...

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New Process for Setting Speed Limits

Monday 16 May, 2022

The new Land Transport Rule: Setting Speed Limits 2022 comes into force on 19 May. These rules replace the existing Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017 and change the process that Waka Kotahi, territorial authorities, and other road controlling authorities must follow when setting speed limits on their roads.

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Employer Accreditation for New Work Visa Opens 23 May

Monday 9 May, 2022

The first stage of Immigration New Zealand’s Accredited Employer Work Visa – the Employer Check (or accreditation) – opens from 23 May 2022. The other two stages (being the assessment of the labour market and role requirements and check on worker credentials), open on 20 June and 4 July respectively.

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Feedback open on proposed changes to AUP for new housing rules

Wednesday 4 May, 2022

On 19 April 2022 Auckland Council opened public feedback on its preliminary response to implementing central government’s latest housing density policy and legislative changes. The two instruments prompting these changes are the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 and the Resource Management Amendment Act 2021.

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Big changes for incorporated societies

Wednesday 20 April, 2022

Everyone involved in the administration of an incorporated society will be breathing a sigh of relief as the new Incorporated Societies Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 5 April 2022. Previously, the law relating to incorporated societies was found in an outdated Act from 1908 and in case law, making it inaccessible, uncertain, and difficult to und...

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Offer-back under the Public Works Act

Thursday 31 March, 2022

When land is held for a public work is no longer required for a public work, the Public Works Act requires the land to be offered back to the person from whom the land was acquired or that person’s successor. However, if the original owner is dead, the offer-back provisions can sometimes lead to arbitrary outcomes, as they are unlikely to have made...

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Court gives guidance on consultation and decision-making process

Wednesday 30 March, 2022

A recent High Court case shows the difficulty of reversing course after consultation is finished. Marlborough District Council (MDC) went out to public consultation on a freedom camping bylaw in which freedom camping in a self-contained vehicle was permitted everywhere except in areas which were expressly prohibited or restricted (default permissi...

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Avoidance policies reign in the wake of King Salmon, but what do they require?

Wednesday 30 March, 2022

Like many coastal areas in Aotearoa New Zealand, Otago Harbour is of economic, ecological, natural character, landscape and recreational value. These overlapping and sometimes competing values are recognised in the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS) through policies of various strengths and levels of directiveness.

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Notices of requirement are relevant for resource consent applications

Wednesday 30 March, 2022

A requiring authority can issue a notice of requirement over land that is required for public work to stop the land being used in a way that would prevent the proposed public work. Aokautere gives important guidance on whether to consider notices of requirements when deciding resource consent applications.

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Shaky fixer uppers

Wednesday 30 March, 2022

The High Court has considered the circumstances in which a territorial authority can undertake seismic work on an earthquake prone building under s 133AS of the Building Act 2004 if the building owner won’t.

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Declarations not a backdoor to challenge resource consents

Wednesday 30 March, 2022

Local authority decisions on notification of resource consent applications can be controversial, as those who consider they are affected often feel strongly about having input into the decision. Section 310(h) of the Resource Management Act 1991 allows people to seek a declaration on any issue or matter relating to the interpretation, administratio...

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Sentencing for wetland disturbance

Wednesday 30 March, 2022

Once viewed as an impediment to efficient land management, in recent years, local authorities have realised the ecological importance of wetlands and taken steps to protect them. Those who disturb or damage wetlands may face charges under the Resource Management Act 1991. As a recent criminal case demonstrates, this will apply even to small wetland...

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Operative plans and proposed plans: what to do when there is a significant policy shift?

Wednesday 30 March, 2022

Considering both operative and proposed planning provisions when making a decision on a resource consent application is rarely a straight-forward exercise. This can be more difficult when there has been a significant policy shift following the notification of the proposed plan, which in turn requires weighing the different provisions.

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Tax changes for property investors

Wednesday 30 March, 2022

In March 2021, the Government announced new rules for property investors, including increasing the bright-line test to 10 years and removing interest deductibility on investment properties. The reason for the changes was to reduce investor demand for existing residential property, to make it easier for first-home buyers to buy a house.

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More transparency for business ownership

Tuesday 29 March, 2022

We believe that it is better to lean in to mega global trends on compliance. The move towards greater transparency in company ownership is one of these major global trends.

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End of vaccine mandates and vaccine passes

Wednesday 23 March, 2022

The Government has announced that from Tuesday 5 April 2022, businesses will no longer have to require customers to show vaccine passes. Currently, businesses operating indoors, such as gyms, swimming pools, and hospitality venues have had to require customers to show their vaccine pass before accessing the venue.

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Review of Omicron isolation periods may save NZ businesses

Thursday 10 March, 2022

The shortening of Omicron isolation periods may give some relief to businesses say insolvency experts, but many are still facing permanent closure if they can’t open their doors due to staff isolating.

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Next steps for Three Waters?

Wednesday 9 March, 2022

With the Water Services Entities Bill still expected to be introduced mid-way through this year, the Working Group on Representation, Governance & Accountability has just completed its discussions with interested parties and released its recommendations.

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Changes coming for retention money obligations

Thursday 24 February, 2022

The current rules on retention money withheld from construction contracts lack clarity and may disadvantage subcontractors. Now, a new Bill is proposing changes to the way principals and head contractors must hold and account for retention money.

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Will the time to file a PG for sexual harassment be extended?

Monday 21 February, 2022

Currently, employees wishing to raise a personal grievance for allegations involving sexual harassment only have the standard 90 days from the date that the alleged harassment occurred. In October 2021, the Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament.

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Game, set and vax: Does no jab mean no match for unvaccinated athletes?

Wednesday 2 February, 2022

With the Winter Olympics starting next week, China has been working hard to admit athletes from all over the world while still maintaining its COVID-free status. Athletes must be vaccinated or spend 21 days in quarantine, and daily testing and face masks are required.

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Good Time to Check Delegations

Tuesday 1 February, 2022

While any time is always a good time for local authorities to check their delegations, it can become even more critical in an election year such as this year. Critical issues can and do arise after the final council meeting before an election. We have often seen local authorities scrambling to establish who has authority to make decisions in the in...

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Restraint of trade agreements: what are they and are they enforceable?

Friday 21 January, 2022

Journalist, Tova O’Brien, is currently challenging her former employer’s restraint of trade in her employment agreement with them in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) because it is preventing her from taking a new job. O’Brien was a political editor on TV3, owned by Discovery, and wants to launch a new breakfast show for competitor, MediaWor...

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Employers concerned about Covid sick leave, infection risks and random testing

Friday 14 January, 2022

Employers concerned about Covid infection risks, sick leave and business continuity as people return to work. As people return to work after the summer holidays, concerns are surfacing from employers about how to minimise Covid infection risk, manage sick leave and ensure business continuity in the event of a local outbreak.

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Review into the Future of Local Government

Tuesday 21 December, 2021

The purpose of the Review is to, “identify how our system of local democracy and governance needs to evolve over the next 30 years, to improve the well-being of NZ communities and the environment, and actively embody the Treaty partnership”. An independent review panel of five chaired by Jim Palmer is tasked with a 3-stage review process culminati...

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Three Waters Proceeds

Tuesday 21 December, 2021

By now everyone will be familiar with the Government proposal, which involves the transfer of all council-owned water services to four water service entities to be owned, but not controlled, by the local authorities within their boundaries. The Three Waters Reform Programme is a response to what has been described as the mounting evidence of the ch...

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Auckland bed tax declared invalid

Tuesday 21 December, 2021

What seemed like a good idea when Auckland council-controlled organisation, ATEED, needed funds to assist with its expenditure on visitor attractions and major events has been found by the Court of Appeal to be an invalid imposition of a targeted rate. Before COVID-19 turned many Auckland hotels into MIQ facilities tourism was booming, and since Au...

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Fluoridation debate lifted from shoulders of local government

Tuesday 21 December, 2021

With the passing of the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill on 9 November 2021 local authorities will be relieved of the contentious and sometimes litigious burden of determining whether to add fluoride to drinking water in their supplies.

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Supreme Court upholds environmental bottom line

Tuesday 21 December, 2021

New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is fundamental to its maritime interests. The Government passed the Exclusive Economic Zone Act 2012 to provide a framework for balancing economic and environmental interests in the EEZ and avoid material harm to the environment. Recently, the Supreme Court considered whether the EEZ Act sets an environme...

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Cultural evidence and the continued draw of the overall judgment

Tuesday 21 December, 2021

In a recent High Court decision , the Court addressed the correct approach to evidence on cultural effects, and the “overall judgment” approach which still tempts decision-makers who find themselves pulled in different directions.

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Rise of the Townhouse

Tuesday 21 December, 2021

Some of New Zealand's suburbs are likely very different in future, with new housing rules passed on 14 December that encourage the building of townhouses and apartments in residential areas. Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill introduces new intensification rules which apply to all residential land in Auck...

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Discretionary bonus schemes

Tuesday 21 December, 2021

A recent decision from the Court of Appeal has overturned an earlier Employment Court ruling on whether discretionary bonus payments are to be taken into account when calculating holiday entitlements. This reversal could have significant ramifications for employers offering, or wanting to offer, discretionary bonuses to staff.

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New COVID legislation makes it easier for employers to impose vaccinate mandates

Friday 3 December, 2021

On 26 November 2021, the COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Act 2021 (“the Act”) came into force, followed by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Amendment Order (No 6) 2021 on 3 December 202 (“the Order”).

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Is relief coming for large summer events?

Thursday 2 December, 2021

Last summer, New Zealand was the envy of the world, as we attended concerts, sporting events, and socialised freely without masks or social distancing. As New Zealand transitions to the new traffic light and COVID vaccination certificate system, the Government is hoping that this new system will allow New Zealanders to once again experience summer ...

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Can employers require employees to be vaccinated for commercial reasons?

Monday 29 November, 2021

This question is rapidly gaining relevance and growing in importance as an increasing number of businesses and private landowners alike are choosing to restrict access or limit business dealings to those who are fully vaccinated. The consequence can put employers with unvaccinated staff needing to access those sites in a tough spot.

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Shots, shots, shots… everybody?

Tuesday 23 November, 2021

In the coming months, it is likely that vaccinations will be made available to 5- to 11-year-old children in New Zealand, considering the vaccine is already approved for this age group by Pfizer.

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What does the new NZ-UK free trade agreement mean for IP?

Wednesday 3 November, 2021

On 21 October 2021, the Government announced that New Zealand and the United Kingdom had agreed in-principle agreement on a fair trade agreement (FTA), potentially worth up to NZ$1 billion to the New Zealand economy. As part of the FTA, New Zealand has agreed to make changes to its copyright laws.

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No-access clause for all commercial leases

Friday 29 October, 2021

The Government passed the COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Bill on 28 October 2021, which will amend the Property Law Act to imply a ‘no access’ clause into commercial leases which do not already provide for adjusted rent payment terms during an epidemic emergency.

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New planning process for housing intensification rules

Thursday 28 October, 2021

On 19 October 2021, the Government introduced the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill (the Bill) which will require councils in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch to adopt medium-density residential standards (MDRS).

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Will new housing density rules increase contributions for developers?

Thursday 28 October, 2021

On 19 October 2021, the Government introduced the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, a bipartisan Bill aimed at increasing residential housing density in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch.

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New NZ-UK free trade deal good news for exporters

Wednesday 27 October, 2021

The announcement on 21 October 2021 that New Zealand and the United Kingdom had agreed to an in-principle free trade agreement (FTA) is good news for New Zealand exporters and the New Zealand economy. Pre-COVID, the United Kingdom was New Zealand’s seventh-largest trading partner, with trade between the countries worth NZ$6 billion.

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Government widens vaccine mandate for employees

Wednesday 27 October, 2021

The Government has announced new legislation to provide greater clarity to employers about when they can mandate vaccines. This is essentially a new vaccine mandate which aligns with the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system) and requires the vaccination of all workers at businesses where customers need to show Covid-19 Vaccination Ce...

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Covid, vaccinations, contracts and health & safety

Friday 22 October, 2021

As New Zealand transitions from its elimination strategy to living with COVID-19, the Government is now focusing on vaccination as its primary strategy for managing COVID. With some professional services firms announcing that they will ban unvaccinated people from their offices, businesses around New Zealand are asking whether they have the power t...

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Will RMA changes help fix New Zealand's housing problem?

Wednesday 20 October, 2021

On 19 October 2021, in a rare show of unity, Labour and National announced new housing density rules aimed at increasing the number of houses in New Zealand by making it easier to build new houses. Government modelling suggests that the new rules could result in 48,200 to 105,500 new homes being built in the next five to eight years.

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Can a COVID pass save summer?

Wednesday 6 October, 2021

Seven weeks into lockdown, the Government has abandoned its elimination strategy. New Zealand is now transitioning to living with COVID-19, and efforts will now focus on managing case numbers, particularly serious cases, while boosting vaccination rates. But with Auckland and Waikato at Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country at Level 2, what wil...

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Judicial review of Hamilton City Council's development contributions policy

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

The High Court has released a judgment in AGPAC Limited and others v Hamilton City Council [2021] NZHC 222. This is the first major substantive decision on development contributions since 2008 and will provide important guidance to councils and developers on what councils can include in their development contribution policies and how councils shou...

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Frosty neighbours win against council's erroneous decisions

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

“Less than minor” or “not more than minor” - does it matter if a council gets the wording of the limited notification test wrong? Queenstown Lakes District Council recently faced a judicial review of its decisions to grant land use consent for the construction of a home in Beacon Point, Wanaka as well as to remove a consent notice from the property...

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Council faces costs award for deficient prosecution

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

Councils in New Zealand have an important role to play in upholding environmental and building standards. This may include prosecuting anyone in their district or region who is breaking the law, issuing abatement notices. However, a recent prosecution by the Canterbury Regional Council resulted in the charges being dismissed and costs and disbursem...

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Flight or fight: Does a promise to the community matter?

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

A local resident’s association recently appealed the “roll-over” of the Glenorchy Aerodrome designation during the review of the Queenstown Lakes District Plan. Queenstown Lakes District Council was the responsible requiring authority for the designation and as the aerodrome was a local purpose reserve, the Council also the administering body under...

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Filing appeals - time limits and waivers

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

Almost since the introduction of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), successive governments have been trying to tighten timeframes set out in the Act in order to reduce delays and holdups for those seeking resource consent. This has included imposing strict time limits for those who wish to appeal decisions made under the RMA or associated legi...

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"End use" effects off to the Court of Appeal

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

Earlier this year, we reported on the High Court’s finding on whether the ‘end use’ of an activity could be considered in a resource consent application. Our article can be read at this link, but in summary, the High Court upheld the Environment Court’s finding that no, it was too remote to consider the end use of plastic bottles for a variation of...

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Guidelines for engagement with Māori

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

Te Arawhiti - The Office for Māori Crown Relations has prepared a set of guidelines to provide a framework for meaningful engagement with Māori. This will be helpful to our local government clients who are required to consult with iwi under the Local Government Act 2002 and the Resource Management Act 1991 in certain circumstances.

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New rules for tyres stored outdoors

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

New rules for outdoor tyre storage came into force on 20 August 2021 after the gazetting of the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Storing Tyres Outdoors) Regulations 2021.

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Compulsory rent reductions for COVID-19 affected businesses?

Wednesday 29 September, 2021

As New Zealand enters its 7th week since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant, businesses throughout the country, particularly in Auckland are struggling with the effects of Alert Level restrictions. Businesses using the 6th edition of the Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) commercial lease have a clause allowing for the parties to agree a ...

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Guidance on Development Contributions

Tuesday 14 September, 2021

New Zealand’s current housing shortage has demonstrated that New Zealand urgently needs to build more houses. However, new developments can create challenges for councils, as they need to put infrastructure in place to accommodate these new developments. The problem is exacerbated for greenfields developments, where there is no existing infrastruct...

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No jab no job?

Monday 13 September, 2021

Since 1 May 2021, the Government has required that certain front-line border workers be vaccinated. Workers who had not been vaccinated within the stipulated timeframe were no longer able to work in front-line positions. This has meant that, if there were no non-front-line positions available for unvaccinated workers to be redeployed into, some emp...

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Parenting Arrangements under Alert Level 2

Wednesday 8 September, 2021

The change to Alert Level 2, for those households outside of Auckland, has brought with it new guidelines on children transitioning between homes.

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Fees to increase for Overseas Investors

Monday 6 September, 2021

From 13 September 2021, overseas investors in ‘sensitive’ New Zealand land or businesses will face higher application fees. The Overseas Investment Office (OIO), which administers the Overseas Investment regime, is primarily funded through application fees.

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New rules and penalties for retentions regime

Wednesday 11 August, 2021

The Construction Contracts Act 2002 (CCA) was intended to significantly change the way that payments were made in the construction industry by encouraging regular and timely payments between the parties to a construction contract. In 2015, a retentions regime was introduced which applied to head contractors and subcontractors.

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When is annual leave not annual leave?

Thursday 5 August, 2021

With the rise of remote working and so many people owning smart phones and laptops, the line between working and time off has blurred. It is increasingly common for employers to expect workers to be available during evenings, weekends, and while they are on leave. However, a recent Employment Court decision has raised the possibility that time spen...

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Employment and vaccination: has anything changed?

Thursday 29 July, 2021

As the Delta variant spreads around the world, countries with access to COVID-19 vaccines are encouraging residents to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, in an effort to return to life as normal. However, some have significant numbers of vaccine hesitant people, which is impeding efforts to achieve full vaccination. Some country or state govern...

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Are councils obliged to provide a forum for unpopular views?

Monday 26 July, 2021

Councils have been in the news recently in relation to their obligations under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (BORA). Around New Zealand, councils have been struggling to balance the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly with their reluctance to provide controversial groups the opportunity to air their views in council facili...

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Interpreting contracts - implied terms and prior negotiations

Friday 16 July, 2021

When people enter into a contract, they usually try to make the terms of the contract as clear as possible and anticipate any issues that might arise when carrying out the contract. Unfortunately, sometimes they overlook issues which becomes a problem further down the track, or circumstances change in ways that they did not anticipate. This can lea...

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Data rights coming for New Zealand consumers

Monday 12 July, 2021

A Consumer Data Right (CDR) encourages competition between suppliers of goods and services and makes it easier for consumers to compare products and services and switch between suppliers. On 5 July 2021, the Government confirmed that it will introduce legislation to establish a CDR framework in New Zealand.

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First stage of RMA reform a step closer

Tuesday 6 July, 2021

The government is pushing forward on the reform of the Resource Management Act 1991 with the release of an exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments (NBE) Bill, one of the three pieces of legislation that will replace the RMA, along with the Strategic Planning Act and the Climate Change Adaptation Act. The government is planning to pass ...

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First stage of changes to work visa scheme revealed

Thursday 1 July, 2021

First heralded in mid-2018, the wholesale change to the employer specific work visa scheme by Immigration has finally being revealed.
These changes wipe away six of the work visa options and create one all encompassing visa called an Accredited Employer Work Visa (or in Immigration New Zealand shorthand, an AEWV). Instead of one application being...

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Promise to engage on consent application has consequences!

Tuesday 15 June, 2021

People adversely affected by a resource consent application are usually anxious to ensure that they have input into whether the local authority grants the application and may understandably feel aggrieved if the consent is granted on a non-notified basis. However, if the activity is a restricted discretionary activity, it is important to distinguis...

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Success for Synlait in the Supreme Court

Tuesday 15 June, 2021

In our June 2019 edition of Legal Brief, we commented on the then recently released Court of Appeal decision relating to the modification of land covenants on the site of Synlait Milk’s Pōkeno factory (the CA found against Synlait). And in our December 2019 edition of Legal Brief, we confirmed that the Supreme Court had granted Synlait leave to app...

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Local council ordered to pay costs!

Tuesday 15 June, 2021

It is rare for the Environment Court to awards costs against a council, particularly when it has been acting in its regulatory role. However, the Court recently held that it was just and fair to award costs against Gisborne District Council because of missteps in the way it had approached an appeal to its review of the Gisborne Pistol Club’s resour...

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From car parking fine to judicial review of a council’s code of conduct

Tuesday 15 June, 2021

Dunedin City Council’s (“Council”) Code of Conduct (“Code”) unexpectedly became the subject of a recent High Court judicial review after a councillor received a car parking fine. Having received a ticket in a council carpark, Cr Vandervis made a complaint about the ticket. In doing so, he offended the staff member to whom he complained who made a f...

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“No ‘wine-ing’ covenants” declined for a subdivision consent in Gibbston Valley

Tuesday 15 June, 2021

There is an increasing trend for applicants seeking to subdivide in industrial or rural environments to offer “no complaints covenants” as conditions of their resource consent application.

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Shelly Bay development comes one step closer

Tuesday 15 June, 2021

The decision by Wellington City Council (“Council”) to develop Shelly Bay, on the coast of Miramar, Wellington, has long been surrounded in controversy. Prominent opponents to the development include Sir Peter Jackson, local iwi Taranaki Whaanui, and Wellington City Mayor, Andy Foster. The main criticism by opponents has concerned how the Council ...

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What if an abatement notice requires you to breach the Resource Management Act?

Tuesday 15 June, 2021

Wairoa District Council (“WDC”) found itself facing a unique dilemma recently after receiving an abatement notice from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (“HBRC”). The first abatement notice required WDC to cease unauthorised discharge of treated wastewater between 6am and 6pm and during incoming tides. The second notice required it to cease the una...

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Lease of Wanaka Airport set aside due to insufficient consultation

Tuesday 15 June, 2021

All local authorities are aware of the requirement to consult before making significant decisions but carrying out genuine consultation that complies with legal obligations can be complicated. Failure to get it right can result in decisions being overturned or contracts set aside. In April 2021, the High Court set aside a 100-year lease of Wanaka A...

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End of temporary notification regime for overseas investment

Monday 31 May, 2021

On 25 May 2021, the Government announced that it would replace the temporary notification regime for overseas investments, which had been introduced last year as part of its COVID-19 response. The temporary regime was intended to prevent New Zealand assets and businesses being snapped up while the economy was under pressure due to the pandemic.

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Sick leave will increase from 5 days to 10 days

Tuesday 25 May, 2021

From late July 2021 to late July 2022, all New Zealand employees will see their sick leave entitlements increase from 5 days to 10 days each entitlement year. The changes have arisen out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the Government believes has highlighted the need for employees to have adequate sick leave, to discourage “toughing it out” by comi...

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Opening a window on separation

Thursday 13 May, 2021

The recent news that Bill and Melinda Gates have decided to separate came as a shock to many people, as the high-profile philanthropic couple have been married for 27 years. However, this reflects a growing trend, both in New Zealand and internationally, towards later-in-life divorce. The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns has...

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Privacy implications of employers asking for employees’ vax status

Monday 10 May, 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations are in the news again after several unvaccinated employees were made redundant because the Government’s COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 had come into effect. The Order requires that all work carried out in MIQ settings is to be carried out by vaccinated workers. The customs workers had chosen not to b...

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ADLS Lease No Access Provisions and Covid-19

Wednesday 5 May, 2021

During Covid-19 related lockdowns in 2020, the no-access provision in the Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) deed of lease (clause 27.5) gained lots of media attention. Lawyers, landlords and tenants debated whether Covid-19 was an emergency to which clause 27.5 applied – the common response was that yes, it was. A recent High Court decision sup...

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Employers of migrants beware - communication is vital

Tuesday 4 May, 2021

There is often an uneasy relationship between employment law and Immigration law when it comes to employing migrants on work visas tied to a specific employer. These visas are generally granted on the basis that there are no New Zealand citizens or residents available to fill the role. The visa is issued for anywhere between 12 months and 3 years...

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Will the bright-line test changes affect separating couples?

Thursday 29 April, 2021

There has been a lot of publicity recently regarding the extension of the bright-line test from 5 years to 10 years. The bright-line test applies to all residential property, other than the main dwelling. If a property is sold within 10 years of acquisition, any capital gain is taxable. So when parties separate, the bright-line test does not apply...

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What is the future for local government?

Tuesday 27 April, 2021

On 23 April 2021, the Government announced an independent review of local government to see whether current roles and functions are fit for purpose. Current government work programmes, such as the resource management reform and three water reforms, are changing the way local government functions. The review will focus on how local government needs ...

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Making a counteroffer: what to know before you sign on the dotted line

Thursday 22 April, 2021

When buying or selling a property, price negotiations are very common, especially in New Zealand’s currently overheated housing market. A recent High Court case is a useful lesson in why you should never put your signature on an offer if you are not willing to follow through, even if you do not think that the offer will be accepted.

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Compulsory climate-related financial disclosure a step closer for NZ business

Tuesday 20 April, 2021

New Zealand is now a step closer to becoming the first country in the world to make climate-related risk reporting compulsory for the financial sector. On 15 April 2021, the Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill will amend the Financial Markets Conduct Act 20...

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Who owns copyright in a photo?

Monday 19 April, 2021

A high-profile reality TV family have been in the news recently due to their attempts to remove an unfiltered photo of Khloe from the Internet. The photo presents a more natural appearance of Khloe than the photos she usually posts to her social media pages.

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What does the bubble mean for trans-Tasman parenting arrangements?

Thursday 15 April, 2021

New Zealanders and Australians alike have welcomed the announcement of a trans-Tasman bubble starting from 19 April 2021, but the news may cause complications for separated couples who are parenting across the Tasman. It is not uncommon for one parent to live in New Zealand, with day-to-day care of the children, and the other parent to live in Aust...

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Cartel Conduct now a criminal offence in New Zealand

Monday 12 April, 2021

Businesses talking formally or informally to their competitors need to take care, as engaging in cartel conduct is now a criminal offence. From 8 April 2021, the Commerce (Criminalisation of Cartels) Amendment Act 2019 comes into effect, and an individual who deliberately engages in cartel conduct commits a criminal offence.

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Bright-line test extended to 10 years

Tuesday 6 April, 2021

On 23 March 2021, the Government announced its intention to extend the bright-line test for tax on the disposal of residential land to 10 years. The Taxation (Annual Rates for 2020-21, Feasibility Expenditure, and Remedial Matters) Bill received Royal Assent on 30 March 2021 and the new extended 10-year period applies from 27 March 2021.

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Is Generic.com no longer generic?

Monday 29 March, 2021

Choosing a brand name for your company, or for your products or services can be difficult. The purpose of a brand is to serve as an ‘origin identifier’, to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Often traders choose generic brand names. A generic brand name is one that is commonly used to describe the actual product or service or some other ...

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Changes for property investors in the new housing policy

Tuesday 23 March, 2021

New rules for property investors will take effect from 27 March 2021 as part of the Government’s shake-up of housing policy. The changes are designed to tilt the balance back in favour of first home buyers and to discourage property speculation.

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Council sent back to the drawing board on climate change

Thursday 18 March, 2021

Over sixty mayors and regional council chairs have signed the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration. Hauraki Coromandel Climate Action Incorporated was disappointed that the Mayor of Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) did not sign it, and took the council to the High Court in judicial review.

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Can the Environment Court decide who is primary mana whenua?

Thursday 18 March, 2021

The High Court was recently asked to consider whether a consent authority, or the Environment Court, has jurisdiction to determine who holds primary mana whenua over the land the subject of a resource consent application.

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Can end use be considered in a resource consent application?

Thursday 18 March, 2021

Iwi and environmental groups recently challenged a decision of the Environment Court majority concerning the end use of plastic bottles from a water extraction and bottling plant. The appellants also sought to join one another’s appeals in the High Court, for which they required standing.

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Parliament to remove barriers for Māori wards

Thursday 18 March, 2021

In the twenty years that New Zealand law has provided for the establishment of Māori wards constituencies in local government, 24 councils have attempted to establish Māori wards and only three have succeeded. Central government has introduced a Bill which would remove the hurdle which has been fatal to most attempts to establish Māori wards: bind...

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No generic court orders for compulsory seismic work

Thursday 18 March, 2021

The District Court has sent a clear message that it will not give councils free rein to carry out unspecified seismic work on privately-owned earthquake-prone buildings (EPBs). The court can make orders empowering councils to carry out seismic works on EPBs at the owner’s cost where the owner has not completed seismic work required by an EPB notic...

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Councils remain liable for compliance of contractors with the RMA

Thursday 18 March, 2021

The recent case of Otago Regional Council v Clutha District Council [2020] NZDC 26125 confirmed that when a consent holder or land owner delegates management of its facilities to a third party it remains liable for compliance with Resource Management Act requirements and has an obligation to monitor its delegate’s performance.

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Can councils revive a lapsed resource consent?

Thursday 18 March, 2021

Resource consents lapse five years after the date they commence unless the consent is given effect to before then. The consent authority can extend that period but only if an extension application is made before the consent lapses.

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Are assets only safe until death do us part?

Monday 22 February, 2021

Nearly 40% of marriages and civil unions in New Zealand each year are remarriages. Second, or even third, marriages and de facto relationships are becoming increasingly common, many involving children from previous relationships. Couples embarking on subsequent or later in life relationships are more likely to enter into contracting out agreements ...

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New Purchase Price Allocation rules from 1 April 2021

Tuesday 16 February, 2021

Are you planning on buying or selling a business? The IRD has changed the rules around how the purchase price is allocated to business assets to avoid buyers and sellers “gaming the system”. Different asset allocations have different tax consequences. When selling land and buildings or a business, how the purchase price is allocated between the bus...

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Government confirms commitment to resource management reform

Monday 15 February, 2021

The Government confirmed on 10 February 2021 that it will repeal the Resource Management Act 1991 during the current parliamentary term and replace it with new laws in order to simplify planning processes and reduce the time and cost to obtain resource consent. The new laws are proposed to improve the natural environment, enable more development w...

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Privacy scrutiny for residential landlords

Friday 5 February, 2021

Do you have a residential investment property? What information do you collect from prospective tenants? The Privacy Commissioner is going to focus on how landlords and property managers are collecting, retaining, and disclosing personal information from prospective tenants out of concern that privacy boundaries are being breached during the tenant...

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A New Year and a new Free Trade Agreement

Tuesday 2 February, 2021

New Zealand and China inked an upgrade to their 12-year-old Free Trade Agreement on 26 January 2021. While still needing Parliamentary approval, the upgraded FTA provides significant scope and opportunity for New Zealand to build on the $32 billion in annual trade between the two countries and will support New Zealand’s Trade Recovery Strategy.

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A matter of trust: are you ready?

Sunday 31 January, 2021

The new Trusts Act 2019, came into force on 31 January 2021. The new Act makes some significant changes to current trust law, and everyone who is involved with a Trust (Trustees, settlors and beneficiaries) needs to know and understand the new legislation and its implications.

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Compulsory COVID vaccines for employees?

Thursday 28 January, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens due to new South African, UK and Brazilian variants, and a vaccine becomes accessible, employers across the globe are asking whether they can require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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New top tax rate brings unexpected reporting requirements for trusts

Thursday 17 December, 2020

Many of New Zealand’s estimated 300,000 to 500,000 trusts are facing increased reporting requirements as a result of the recent increase in the top tax rate. In early December 2020, the Government passed legislation increasing the top personal tax rate to 39% from 1 April 2021. The new rate applies to all income earned over $180,000.

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Christmas Closedown Confusion

Thursday 17 December, 2020

As the holiday season approaches, we have recently been receiving a lot of questions from employers about how to correctly manage closedown periods for their staff who are not yet entitled to paid annual holidays at the time of the closedown. Employees become entitled to four weeks of paid annual holidays once they have worked for the employer for ...

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When should a property seller consult the buyer?

Thursday 10 December, 2020

Have you ever been in the position of selling a property that has, or is going to have, tenants in it? If the tenant wants to make changes to the lease or assign it before settlement, you might have to consult the purchaser before you agree to anything.

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National Environmental Standards for Marine Aquaculture

Monday 7 December, 2020

The Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Marine Aquaculture) Regulations 2020 (“NES-MA” or “Standards”) were released on 30 July and will come into force on 1 December 2020. The Standards are part of the Government’s Aquaculture Strategy which aims to guide the sustainable growth of New Zealand’s aquaculture industry.

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Appropriateness of zoning privately owned land as open space

Monday 7 December, 2020

The Environment Court recently considered the appropriateness of zoning privately owned land as open space in Golf (2012) Ltd v Thames-Coromandel District Council [2019] NZEnvC 112. This case discusses the tensions between private and public interests in privately owned land.

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Natural justice adrift in Schmuck v Northland Regional Council

Monday 7 December, 2020

Douglas Schmuck operates a boatyard business in the Bay of Islands, opposite the Opua car ferry departure wharf. The consents and easements to operate the boatyard have been subject to more than twenty years of dispute, described by the Courts as “torturous” and “fraught with controversy”. Some local residents formed a group, the Opua Coastal Prese...

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Bottom lines for the bottom of the ocean

Monday 7 December, 2020

Seabed mining is a controversial topic across the globe and New Zealand is no exception. The Court of Appeal’s recent decision about a proposal to mine and discharge to the seabed in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a timely reminder that protecting the environment from pollution is an “environmental bottom line” when assessing applications for...

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Lapsed consent, waiver and time limit extension powers

Monday 7 December, 2020

The recent decision of the Environment Court, Sidwell v Thames-Coromandel District Council [2020] NZEnvC 124, considered the application of sections 37 and 37A of the Resource Management Act 1991 (“RMA”) in the context of resource consents which have lapsed.

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Resource Management (Stock Exclusions) Regulations 2020

Monday 7 December, 2020

The Resource Management (Stock Exclusions) Regulations 2020 were released on 5 August 2020 along with several other policies associated with the Governments direction on freshwater management. The Regulations apply to any person who owns or controls stock, including beef cattle, dairy cattle, dairy support cattle, deer and pigs, and such persons mu...

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RMA Reform: Proposed changes to the resource management system

Monday 7 December, 2020

A major review of the resource management system and the Resource Management Act (RMA) was undertaken by a Panel appointed by the Minister for the Environment. The Panel’s scope of review included the relationship of the RMA with other key public administration and infrastructure legislation, but did not extend to examining local government reform....

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RMA Reform: Proposed changes to the resource consent process

Monday 7 December, 2020

The report of the Resource Management Review Panel, released in July 2020, includes proposals for the comprehensive reform of the resource management system in New Zealand. The purpose of this article is to consider how the proposed reform will affect the process for obtaining a resource consent.

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Changes are coming for employers

Thursday 26 November, 2020

Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party have won an outright majority in Parliament, unprecedented since the introduction of MMP in 1996. The incoming Labour Government has entered into a Co-operation Agreement with the Green Party but will not be subject to the constraints of a coalition agreement, unlike many MMP Governments. Accordingly, it seems li...

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Anyone for a Big Jack?

Thursday 29 October, 2020

Many New Zealanders have heard of Hungry Jack’s, an Australian fast food franchise owned by the Burger King Corporation. The menu on offer is similar to Burger King in New Zealand, but Hungry Jack’s recently started offering two new burgers: a ‘Big Jack’ and a ‘Mega Jack’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this caught the attention of McDonald’s, who claimed...

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Is "copyright for losers"?

Tuesday 27 October, 2020

It is according to Banksy, the anonymous England-based graffiti artist, film director and political activist. However, a recent EU trade mark decision cancelling the trade mark Banksy held over one of his images may have changed his mind. Now all 14 of his trade marks may be at risk.

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Is your trust safe?

Tuesday 20 October, 2020

Do you have a trust? Did your spouse automatically become a beneficiary when you got married? Or have you thought about adding a new spouse as a discretionary beneficiary? Have you acquired property through your trust instead of personally? If so, your trust property may be at risk of relationship property claims.

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Timely reminder about directors' duties to creditors

Thursday 1 October, 2020

In the current economic climate, company directors should always be conscious of their company’s financial position and be ready to make hard decisions if it looks unable to pay its debts. Directors owe duties to the company’s creditors not to continue to trade if the company is insolvent and can be made to pay compensation if they breach this duty...

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Will resource consent be needed to operate an Airbnb?

Monday 28 September, 2020

Homeowners renting out homes on Airbnb or similar platforms in Christchurch will have to apply for resource consent if proposed changes to the District Plan announced by Christchurch City Council go ahead. The change doesn’t affect people renting out a room, only visitor accommodation where the host of the property isn’t in residence.

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Risks of overdrawn current accounts

Tuesday 22 September, 2020

Shareholder current accounts are an easy and convenient way to manage and record drawings by shareholders from the company and injections of capital into the company. Some shareholders who work in their company prefer to take drawings though their current account rather than a regular salary. However, in the current economic climate, current accoun...

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Big changes coming for residential landlords

Tuesday 8 September, 2020

Upcoming amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act mean big changes for residential landlords. The changes are intended to provide more security and stability for tenants and help them to feel more secure in their rental property.

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Is pay equity on the horizon?

Wednesday 2 September, 2020

Does your business operate in an industry that has traditionally been female dominated? You might be affected by new equal pay legislation. The Equal Pay Amendment Act will come into force in late October 2020. It will allow workers to make a pay equity claim using the existing bargaining framework instead of having to go to court.

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All about control for New Zealand Venture Capital 2.0?

Monday 31 August, 2020

One of the great things about my role is the brilliant, inspirational and courageous entrepreneurs I get to meet. Recently, I was talking to one such person about their vision, and how the time had now arrived to push the boat out and follow the dream. I was inspired by his passion, self belief and clarity of thinking. An interesting perspective he...

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COVID-19 turmoil for employers again

Wednesday 26 August, 2020

As Auckland shifts to Alert Level 3, and the rest of the country returns to Level 2, everyone in New Zealand is anxiously watching to see whether, and how quickly, this latest outbreak can be brought under control. Employers, especially in Auckland, will once again be faced with difficult decisions about whether and how they can continue to operate...

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COVID-19 lockdown decisions return to haunt employers

Wednesday 26 August, 2020

Employers in New Zealand will be familiar with the hard decisions that many had to make during and after the COVID-19 lockdown. Faced with up to 100% reductions in revenue, and with wage subsidies not covering the full cost of salaries and wages, many employers reduced their employees’ hours or rates of pay. Unfortunately, in the rush to prepare fo...

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Developments for Three Waters Reform

Thursday 13 August, 2020

Stemming from Havelock North’s campylobacter outbreak, the Government has spent the last three years considering how to improve the regulation and infrastructure of New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater (“Water Services”).

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Randerson Report released: New Direction for Resource Management

Wednesday 5 August, 2020

The Resource Management Review Panel released its 531-page report "New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand" on 29 July as a result of a comprehensive review of the resource management system in New Zealand. The Report is the most significant, broad-ranging and inclusive review to take place within the system since the introduction of ...

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COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Act 2020

Friday 31 July, 2020

On 8 July 2020, as part of the COVID-19 rebuild plan, the Government passed the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 (“the Act”) which will provide an accelerated consenting process that will fast track eligible development and infrastructure projects. The purpose of the Act is to urgently promote employment to support New Zealand’s r...

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Building Act changes announced by Government

Thursday 16 July, 2020

On 24 May, the Minister announced a new package of exemptions that will be added to the Building Act 2004 which will allow more types of low risk building work to occur without the necessity of a building consent. It is hoped that the exemptions will stimulate the construction sector, allowing it to focus on larger projects which will provide more ...

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Important Changes to New Zealand's Privacy Laws

Tuesday 14 July, 2020

New Zealand privacy laws are set to change on 1 December 2020 under the new Privacy Act 2020. To prepare for 1 December, all businesses should start reviewing and updating their privacy policy and data protection practices to ensure they meet the requirements under the new Privacy Act.

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Firing ex-wife costs husband $70,000

Friday 3 July, 2020

It is not uncommon during a relationship for a spouse or de facto partner to take a salary from a family business even though they don’t actually work in the business. If couple separates, the spouse or de facto partner who owns the company may be able to stop the salary without breaching employment obligations, although there can be relationship p...

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What happens when relationship debts are greater than relationship assets?

Monday 29 June, 2020

It is not uncommon in a relationship for one partner to incur debts without the knowledge or consent of the other, or for one partner to have sole responsibility for a debt incurred for the benefit of both parties. Debts are classified as either relationship debts or separate debts under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976. A debt is generally co...

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Utilising the COVID-19 wage subsidy extension

Wednesday 17 June, 2020

Despite New Zealand’s triumph over COVID-19, victory is bittersweet for New Zealand’s hardest-hit businesses. Although applications for the original wage subsidy scheme closed on 9 June 2020, from 10 June 2020 further support is available to the worst-hit businesses in the form of the wage subsidy extension (the “extension”), which will remain open...

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Can trust powers be relationship property and when debts can be divided?

Tuesday 16 June, 2020

In 2016, the Supreme Court held that powers to manage a trust can be relationship property in certain circumstances. If the trust deed essentially gives one party the right to allocate all the assets under the trust to themselves, unhindered by the normal fiduciary duties placed on trustees, those powers are properly classified as rights which give...

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Stay at home Mum receives more than 50% of the property pool

Monday 15 June, 2020

When one party in a relationship is likely to have significantly higher income and living standards after separation, the courts can order them to compensate the other party out of their share of relationship property if the disparity is due to the different roles that the parties took on during their relationship.

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Penalty clauses and public policy

Tuesday 9 June, 2020

Sometimes when parties enter into a contract, they anticipate that one of them might not fulfil their contractual obligations. Instead of seeking a remedy from the courts, they choose to agree in advance what the consequences of breaching the contract will be and insert those consequences into a clause in the contract.

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New Environmental Freshwater Standard

Friday 5 June, 2020

The Government’s new Action for healthy waterways package will impose proactive obligations on farmers and growers to prevent further degradation of New Zealand’s waterways. The Package, announced on 28 May, includes a proposed new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, National Environment Standard for Freshwater and Regulations for ...

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Fair rent reduction for all commercial leases

Thursday 4 June, 2020

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Is your business facing possible redundancies?

Wednesday 3 June, 2020

As New Zealand exits the COVID-19 national lockdown and takes steps towards normality, many businesses are finding that “business as usual” is a long way off. They are faced with needing to make changes in order to adjust to a very different business environment. Many will have reopened after a time of extreme financial hardship and a complete oper...

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Changes to overseas investment rules post COVID-19 - Emergency Notification Regime

Thursday 28 May, 2020

Businesses hoping for foreign investment to help them survive after the COVID-19 lockdown need to be aware of the proposed changes to the Overseas Investment Act. The Government is making urgent changes to the Act to ensure that overseas investment in sensitive New Zealand businesses is in New Zealand’s ‘best interests’, while those businesses are ...

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Cryptocurrency is property

Wednesday 20 May, 2020

Do you own cryptocurrency? Bitcoins, released in 2009, were the first decentralised cryptocurrency and since then over 6000 other types of cryptocurrencies have been created. After the value of bitcoins skyrocketed from $998 in January 2017 to $19,783 in December 2017, some New Zealanders started trading in cryptocurrency, including through New Zea...

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What weight should Council give a rule in the PDP?

Thursday 23 April, 2020

The High Court in Knowles v Queenstown Lakes District Council recently considered the extent to which councils should take a Proposed District Plan into account when granting resource consent applications. The applicants owned several residential properties on Queenstown Hill and had also purchased a vacant property in front of them in order to pre...

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When will the Environment Court award higher costs?

Thursday 23 April, 2020

The Environment Court recently released two decisions in which it considered when it was appropriate to award higher costs and indemnity costs. Costs in the Environment Court generally fall into three broad categories.

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Environment Court gives green light to Airbnb in Christchurch

Thursday 23 April, 2020

A Christchurch resident has succeeded in the Environment Court against a decision by the Christchurch City Council to decline to grant resource consent for her to rent her home out on Airbnb. The house was located in an area of Christchurch zoned Residential Suburban and the activity was a discretionary activity under the District Plan. Guest acco...

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Avoiding double penalties when sentencing a company and director

Thursday 23 April, 2020

In Southland Regional Council v Erskine, a recent District Court sentencing under the RMA, the Court considered whether it would be a double penalty to impose a fine on the sole director of a company as well as the company itself. The defendant was the sole director of a company which had previously been convicted and fined $32,000 on the same c...

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Resource Management Amendment Bill 2019

Thursday 23 April, 2020

On 30 March 2020, the Environment Committee released its report on the Resource Management Amendment Bill 2019 (“the Amendment Bill “). The Amendment Bill was introduced into the House on 23 September 2019. It proposes a new separate process for freshwater planning and proposes to amend a number of changes to the RMA made by the previous National G...

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Is the end use of the activity a relevant consideration?

Wednesday 1 April, 2020

The Environment Court has recently considered whether, and to what extent, a consent authority may consider matters beyond the particular activity for which consent is sought and take into consideration the end use of whatever may be produced by the activity or the effects of other activities for which consent is not required.

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Is a tiny house a structure under the RMA?

Wednesday 1 April, 2020

Tiny houses are becoming popular throughout New Zealand. In a recent decision of the Environment Court, Judge Dwyer considered whether a tiny house being constructed in Hutt City was a “structure” that required resource consent under the Resource Management Act 1991 “RMA”.

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Bundling permitted activities

Wednesday 1 April, 2020

The High Court recently considered whether permitted activities can be bundled with more restrictive activities in a resource consent application. Marlborough District Council v Zindia Limited was an appeal by the Council against a decision by the Environment Court to cancel an abatement notice issued against the respondent, Zindia.

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Government Infrastructure Announcement

Wednesday 1 April, 2020

The Government recently announced the details of over $7 billion in infrastructure spending, with $5.3 billion allocated to roading, including cyclepaths and footpaths, $1.1 billion to rail, and nearly $400 million on the Skypath and Seapath for cycling and walking across the Auckland harbour. The announcement also indicated that $300 million had b...

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Supreme Court refuses to hear rates revolt case

Wednesday 1 April, 2020

The Supreme Court has delivered a small piece of good news for local authorities around the country on rates recovery. The case came out of the long-running rates revolt saga in Kaipara. The Rogans had refused to pay their rates and Kaipara District Council took the matter to court. The Council succeeded in the District Court, High Court and Cou...

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Frustration in the time of COVID-19

Monday 16 March, 2020

As country after country closes its borders or shuts down all non-essential businesses, the effects of coronavirus are really starting to be felt. Some businesses may find themselves unable to meet their contractual obligations, whether because of shortages of labour or materials, movement restrictions, or downturns in their business.

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Could companies be liable to the public for the harm caused by their emissions?

Tuesday 10 March, 2020

The High Court says that it’s arguable. In a recent decision, it dismissed the possibility that corporate emitters were committing a public nuisance or were liable for negligence but refused to strike out an argument that there was a new duty relating to climate change emissions.

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Changes to the Fair Trading Act

Tuesday 3 March, 2020

Late last year, the Government introduced a Bill to amend the Fair Trading Act 1986. The purpose of this Bill is to protect consumers and small businesses from ‘unfair’ commercial practices.

There are three key changes proposed, read the full article to find out what they are.

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Is Coronavirus impacting your business?

Tuesday 3 March, 2020

Three months have passed since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first reported in Wuhan, China. Following the significant growth of confirmed cases outside China, most recently in Italy, South Korea and Iran, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that the world should do more to be prepared for a possible Coronavirus pandemi...

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Agricultural Emissions: Farm plans and measuring emissions

Friday 21 February, 2020

This is the second article in our series of three relating to the proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme. The first article outlined the main changes; this article focuses on agricultural emissions.

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Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill

Thursday 13 February, 2020

Submissions have recently closed on another Bill amending the Climate Change Response Act. The Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme, as well as improving the operation of New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).

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What is a trade mark?

Tuesday 11 February, 2020

Do you know the difference between this symbol ® and this symbol ™? The ® indicates a registered trade mark, which means that the holder of the trade mark has the exclusive right to use that trade mark in relation to nominated categories of goods and/or services in New Zealand. The ™ indicates an unregistered trade mark, which only has limited leg...

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What to do if an employee is damaging your business

Monday 10 February, 2020

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the brand damage that the Royal Family has suffered through recent actions by some of its members. The fact that those damaging the brand are family members makes it harder to take decisive action. But what can a business do if an employee damages its brand?

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A battle Royal over Registration

Tuesday 28 January, 2020

The Guardian has reported that Harry and Meghan are facing a potential legal battle over their brand ‘Sussex Royal’ after someone else lodged an application with the EU Intellectual Property Office to trade mark a range of goods, including alcohol, beer and luggage under ‘Sussex Royal’. If you haven’t protected your brand, it can come as a huge sho...

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Record fine for privacy breaches

Monday 20 January, 2020

A German company has recently been fined €14.5 million for breaching the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the highest-ever GDPR fine imposed on a German company. The GDPR is the core of Europe’s digital privacy legislation, not only covering information like names, addresses and photos, but also IP addresses and genetic and biometric dat...

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Better protections for contractors

Monday 13 January, 2020

Businesses might find themselves in the position of having to prove their workers are contractors, not employees, under a new set of proposals released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (“MBIE”). MBIE has released a discussion document seeking feedback on a range of options to improve the rights of contractors and address the v...

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Application of King Salmon to Regional Policy Statements

Monday 13 January, 2020

The High Court recently considered the application of the Supreme Court’s decision in King Salmon to the drafting of regional policy statements. The Environmental Defence Society Incorporated “EDS” challenged the Otago Regional Council’s wording of a provision in the Proposed Otago Regional Policy Statement “PORPS”. The EDS alleged that the policy’...

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Equal sharing to stay for now

Tuesday 17 December, 2019

In July 2019, the Law Commission recommended ending equal sharing of the family home if one partner had owned the property before the relationship began. The Commission also recommended giving courts greater powers to access and divide trust property and the introduction of new Family Income Sharing Arrangements.

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Can a regional council prohibit fishing in a specific area?

Thursday 12 December, 2019

In Attorney-General v Trustees of the Motiti Rohe Moana Trust [2019] NZCA 532, the Court of Appeal considered whether the Bay of Plenty Regional Council could ban fishing in areas of outstanding natural character in order to maintain indigenous biodiversity of fish species when the Fisheries Act 1996 (“FA”) separately regulates the taking of the pa...

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Can an easement be granted over an esplanade reserve for a commercial activity?

Thursday 12 December, 2019

In Douglas Craig Schmuck v Opua Coastal Preservation Society Incorporated [2019] NZSC 118 the Supreme Court considered whether the easements granted to the appellant, Schmuck, over an esplanade reserve were valid, as well as the role of a local authority acting as the Minister’s Delegate.
Schmuck operates a boatyard business in Opua and, as part o...

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When will the Environment Court recall a judgment?

Thursday 12 December, 2019

In Granger v Dunedin City Council [2019] NZEnvC 143, the Court considered whether it could recall its judgment which allowed an appeal against Council’s decision to grant a subdivision consent to Peninsula Holdings Trust (“PHT”).

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Modifying land covenants

Thursday 12 December, 2019

In our June 2019 edition of the legal brief we provided commentary on the then recently issued Court of Appeal decision relating to the modification of existing land covenants on the site of Synlait Milk’s Pokeno Factory. The Court of Appeal decision reinstated the land covenants which had the consequence that Synlait Milk’s factory had been built ...

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Who can bring an appeal under the RMA?

Thursday 12 December, 2019

In Strategic Property Advocacy Network v Auckland Council [2019] NZEnvC 134, the Court considered the definition of “person” in the RMA in order to decide whether the Strategic Property Advocacy Network (“SPAN”) was able to bring an appeal against Auckland Council’s Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (“PAUP”).

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Stage 1 of Resource Management Act reforms

Thursday 12 December, 2019

The Resource Management Amendment Bill 2019 (“the Bill”) was introduced into the House on 23 September 2019 and has been referred to the Environment Select Committee, with a report due back on 26 March 2020.

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Local Government Amendment Bill (No 2) passed

Thursday 12 December, 2019

The Local Government Amendment Bill (No 2) received Royal Assent on 21 October 2019 and has come into force. The amendment removes the threat of forced amalgamation for local authorities. Reorganisation requests can now only be made by members of the public if they are a group comprising at least 10% of the voters in the area.

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Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill passed

Thursday 12 December, 2019

Parliament passed the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill on 7 November. It received Royal assent on 13 November 2019 and has now come into force. The purpose of the amendment is to provide a framework for New Zealand to develop and implement climate change policies to help limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C and...

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Draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity

Thursday 12 December, 2019

The Draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (“proposed NPS-IB”) was released for consultation with the purpose to maintain indigenous biodiversity. Under the RMA, management of indigenous biodiversity by councils has resulted in uncertainty and debate by councils and communities, and litigation that is costly and time consuming ...

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Will climate-related financial disclosures be compulsory?

Monday 2 December, 2019

MBIE has released a discussion document for consultation on whether NZ businesses should be subject to mandatory reporting of climate-related information and seeking information on the cost to businesses of introducing mandatory reporting.

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Part 4: Trusts Act 2019: Removal of Trustees

Thursday 28 November, 2019

More and more New Zealand trusts are facing problems due to trustees losing mental capacity from dementia or other age-related issues. At the moment, if a trustee loses capacity, they cannot retire as a trustee. They have to be removed by the person who has the power to appoint and remove trustees of the trust.

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Minimum wage obligations and how to meet them

Tuesday 26 November, 2019

Did you know that employers are obliged to pay salaried employees at least the minimum wage for every hour that they work? Many employers think that they can average hours worked to comply with minimum wage legislation, but the courts have expressly stated that this is unacceptable.

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Part 3: Trusts Act 2019: Beneficiaries' rights to information

Thursday 21 November, 2019

The new Trusts Act clarifies and codifies beneficiaries’ rights to certain trust information to help beneficiaries make sure that the trustees are complying with their duties and the terms of the trust.

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Lime Scooters - a new option

Thursday 31 October, 2019

The recent introduction of Lime Scooters to New Zealand’s major cities has presented people with the option to glide quickly and effortlessly across the CBD on an electric scooter. People on a Lime Scooter do not waste precious minutes searching for a carpark or spend money on parking.

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Part 2: Trusts Act 2019: Trustees' duties

Tuesday 22 October, 2019

Last week we explored the purpose of the new Trust Act 2019 and some of the administrative changes that are being made to trusts in New Zealand. This week, we are looking at one of the most important aspects of the new Act: the changes to trustees’ duties.

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Part 1: Trusts Act 2019

Monday 14 October, 2019

Trustees, settlors and beneficiaries should all be aware that there is a new Trusts Act 2019, which comes into force on 31 January 2021. The new Act makes some significant changes to current trust law, and everyone who is involved with a Trust needs to know the new legislation.

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How can you identify the subject of an anonymous defamatory statement?

Thursday 10 October, 2019

A recent Privy Council decision considered whether a defamatory statement that did not identify anyone can be read together with a later statement that identified a person but was not defamatory. The Court decided that, in certain circumstances, you can join the two statements together as grounds for an action in defamation.

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Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill

Thursday 3 October, 2019

Submissions on the Climate Change Bill have now closed, with the Select Committee report due on 21 October 2019. This Bill will amend the Climate Change Response Act 2002. The purpose of the Bill is to provide a framework for New Zealand to develop and implement climate change policies to comply with the Paris Agreement to limit the global average ...

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Consultation is not a "referendum"

Thursday 3 October, 2019

The High Court has confirmed that the Local Government Act 2002 (”LGA”) does not give a participant in a particular process the right to have input into a Council’s consultation material, nor does it oblige a Council to accept the preference of the majority of submitters in respect of a LGA process.

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Resource Management Act Review

Thursday 3 October, 2019

On 24 July 2019, David Parker, Minister for the Environment announced that the Government is establishing an expert advisory group to undertake a wide review of the RMA, including how it interrelates with transport, climate change and local government laws. The group will provide an ‘options and issues’ paper seeking feedback by the end of October ...

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Gibbston Vines Ltd v Queenstown Lake District Council

Thursday 3 October, 2019

The Environment Court considered the effect of a proposed residential subdivision in an outstanding natural landscape area containing several viticulture businesses. The development proposal was for one commercial block (“Lot 1”) to be replanted in grapes and six residential blocks. The proposal was a discretionary activity as the proposed subdivis...

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Productivity Commission Draft Report

Thursday 3 October, 2019

The Productivity Commission released its draft report on Local Government funding and financing on 4 July. The Commission assessed current and prospective funding tools through the lens of five principles: Appropriate for local government use, coherent, efficient, equitable and fair, and sustainable.

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Withdrawing Charges under the RMA

Thursday 3 October, 2019

The District Court recently refused to grant Canterbury Regional Council (“Regional Council”) leave to withdraw charges under the RMA against a defendant. In the case in question, the Regional Council alleged that Bathurst Coal had discharged sediment-laden water onto land which resulted in contaminants entering the Bush Gully Stream.

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Draft National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2019 for consultation

Thursday 3 October, 2019

The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries have released a draft proposed National Policy Statement ("NPS") for Freshwater Management for consultation. Submissions close on 17 October 2019.

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Draft National Policy Statement for Urban Development

Thursday 3 October, 2019

The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development are currently consulting on a proposed National Policy Statement ("NPS-UDC") on Urban Development. Submissions close 10 October 2019.

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Draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land

Thursday 3 October, 2019

The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries are currently seeking consultation on a proposed National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (“NPS-HPL”).
Submissions on the proposed NPS on Highly Productive Land close on 10 October 2019.

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Businesses can't remove bad reviews

Thursday 1 August, 2019

The Commerce Commission has filed charges under the Fair Trading Act against holiday rental management and booking company Bachcare. The Commission alleges that Bachcare did not publish reviews if consumers had given fewer than 3.5 out of 5 stars and removed negative comments from some reviews before putting them on its website. The Commission beli...

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Australian defamation decision raises risk for public Facebook pages

Wednesday 31 July, 2019

A recent Australian judgment has found several media companies liable for defamation after members of the public posted defamatory comments on the companies’ public Facebook pages. The Court thought that it was significant that the media companies had the ability to delay publication of comments until after they had reviewed them.

In this articl...

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Is this the end of equal sharing?

Tuesday 30 July, 2019

The Law Commission released a report on relationship property rules on 23 July 2019. The most significant recommendation suggests ending the equal division of the family home when the home was owned by one partner before the relationship or was received by one partner as a gift or inheritance during the relationship.

The Law Commission also rec...

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Resource Management Act Review

Tuesday 30 July, 2019

The Minister for the Environment has announced the establishment of an expert advisory group to undertake a wide review of the RMA, including how it interrelates with transport, climate change and local government laws. The group will provide an ‘options and issues’ paper seeking feedback by the end of October 2019, and a final report by the end of...

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Why have a dress code?

Tuesday 9 July, 2019

Wardrobe choices can affect how customers or clients perceive you or your employees. Clothing choice can also improve performance at work and increase respect from others. How employees present is part of a company’s brand and businesses should consider whether their dress code policy is consistent with the brand they want to portray.

There are...

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What timely legal advice could have avoided

Thursday 20 June, 2019

The benefit of timely (and early) legal advice on council notification decisions in contentious resource consent applications has been highlighted in the recent High Court decision in Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc v Northland Regional Council & Resin and Wax Ltd [2019] NZHC 449 [15 March 2019] (Resin & Wax Decision).

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Local authority requiring monetary contributions on designations

Thursday 20 June, 2019

The Environment Court in Tauranga City Council v Minister of Education [2019] NZEnvC 32 has confirmed that a local authority has the power to recommend, and that the Environment Court has the power to impose, conditions requiring monetary contributions on designations in circumstances where the requiring authority has not offered such conditions on...

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Consultation obligations for Outsourcing contracts

Thursday 20 June, 2019

We have been involved in several recent instances in which a local authority planned to outsource its water and/or wastewater operations. Local authorities are prohibited from selling their relevant assets unless it is to another local authority or CCO, so these arrangements typically take the form of long term operations contracts.

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Quarry covenants affecting Synlait's new Pokeno dairy factory

Thursday 20 June, 2019

The Court of Appeal has recently delivered a decision on land covenants restricting land use, which affects the land Synlait has constructed its new $250 million Pokeno dairy plant on. The Court of Appeal has ruled that the land covenants be reinstated, meaning the plant has been constructed in breach of covenants restricting the use of the land in...

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Availability Provisions Clarified

Thursday 20 June, 2019

A recent decision of the Employment Court has clarified the reach of availability provisions. This decision has an impact for all employers who require their employees to be available to work overtime. The case of Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa Inc v New Zealand Post Limited [2019] NZEmpC 47, considered the question of whether a clause in the e...

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Employment Law Changes

Friday 31 May, 2019

The introduction of the Labour government has seen a recent shake up to employment legislation. Many of the changes are a restoration of standards and protections for employees as well as being intended to promote and strengthen collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace.

The changes came in two waves, with the second set of chang...

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Court sends warning on poorly drafted consent conditions

Tuesday 9 April, 2019

The Environment Court recently issued strong warnings that poorly framed conditions could impact the Court’s decision-making. Those warnings went unanswered by the Applicant which resulted in the release of an interim decision only.

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Court of Appeal guidance on obligation to pay rates

Tuesday 9 April, 2019

The Rogans were unhappy about having to pay substantially increased rates because of a major cost overruns in the construction of a wastewater treatment plant in Kaipara District. At the time, they refused to pay rates. Later, they offered to pay the outstanding rates but not penalties. They said that the rates assessments and invoices did not c...

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High Court strikes out a judicial review for trade competition

Tuesday 9 April, 2019

Sheffield Properties Ltd (“Sheffield”), with interests within the Paraparaumu Town Centre, sought judicial review of the decision by Kapiti Coast District Council (“the Council”) to approve Private Plan Change 84 - Airport Zone (“PC84”).

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Council's statutory demand upheld

Tuesday 9 April, 2019

The High Court has declined to set aside a council’s statutory demand for a $415,493.45 debt for development contribution levy. The case is reassuring for local authorities.

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Government establishes new Infrastructure Commission

Tuesday 9 April, 2019

The Minister for Infrastructure, Shane Jones, has announced the establishment of a new independent infrastructure body, the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, ‘Te Waihanga’.

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Bella Vista: MBIE Report highlights failure to perform statutory functions

Tuesday 9 April, 2019

MBIE has released a report of its review of Tauranga City Council’s (“Council”) performance of its functions under the Building Act 2004 with respect to the Bella Vista development. It concludes that there were a number of reasons for the Council’s failure to perform its regulatory functions.

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Privacy Bill: Select Committee Report

Thursday 4 April, 2019

Almost a year after the Privacy Bill was first introduced, the Select Committee has provided its much awaited report. The Select Committee has made some significant changes to the Bill, including additional changes to the Privacy Principles and clarifications around the transfer of personal information offshore.

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Can a trustee use trust funds for litigation costs?

Friday 22 March, 2019

Trustees are generally entitled to reimbursement for costs properly incurred in the administration of a trust. There are however limitations to that principle, particularly in respect of litigation costs. This issue was addressed in the recent Court of Appeal decision of Pratley v Courtney (2018) CA40/2018 NZCA 436, which concerned an appeal agains...

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Case highlights risk of assuming a director has authority to contract

Friday 22 March, 2019

It is common practice for a director to sign documents on behalf of the company. A recent case serves as a reminder that it cannot be assumed, unless the company only has one director, that a contract signed by a single director is enforceable against the company.

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A glimpse into the Personal Property Securities Register

Friday 22 March, 2019

The use of credit is an essential part of commercial transactions and is made easier by, and usually dependent on, the debtor’s ability to provide security for the credit. Security interests over personal property (for example, plant and equipment, trucks, trailers and tractors, stock in trade, accounts receivable and the like) are granted on a dai...

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RMA reform to start by fixing the government's blunders

Wednesday 28 November, 2018

A two stage process to improve the resource management system was announced today [9 November 2018] by Environment Minister David Parker. The changes are separate from the legislation to set up an Urban Development Authority to fast-track housing and urban development projects. “The Resource Management Act is underperforming in some critical areas ...

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Land Transfer Act 2017

Wednesday 28 November, 2018

The Land Transfer Act 2017 came into force on 12 November 2018. It is a significant rewrite of important Property Law legislation – but what impact does it have on local authorities? There is a lot of new terminology. The Act introduces the concept of a Record of Title which replaces what was previously referred to as a Certificate of Title or, s...

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Recent decision on "affected persons" highlights the importance of context

Wednesday 28 November, 2018

In Ennor v Auckland Council [2018] NZHC 2598, Whata J adopted the threshold test for an “affected person” under s 95E of the Resource Management Act 1991 (“RMA”) and addressed the importance of context in notification decisions. The Court considered an application for judicial review of the Council’s decision to grant a neighbours’ resource consen...

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The Government's Three Waters Review

Wednesday 28 November, 2018

The ripple effects of the Havelock North water crisis continue to make themselves felt. The government’s three waters review has resulted in a November 2018 cabinet paper that lays out the regulatory pathway that the government will pursue. Over the 2019 year this comprises detailed policy proposals for...

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Auckland Council's restrictions on stadium reports upheld

Wednesday 28 November, 2018

Two Auckland councillors complained to the Ombudsman about lack of access to two “pre-feasibility” reports on the proposed national stadium in Auckland. Councillors were provided unredacted copies on the basis that the reports were not copied, that they were kept in a secure location, and that they were returned to the mayor’s office once the coun...

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Email quarantine: getting it right

Wednesday 28 November, 2018

Councils, like other employers, have obligations to protect their employees from harm. Quarantining abusive or offensive emails is one method of doing so. However, Councils must tread carefully.

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Deemed Directors and nervous employees

Friday 12 October, 2018

The law requires the business and affairs of a company to be managed by, or under the direction or supervision of, the board of directors (“Board”). The Board can delegate some of those management powers to employees, but where employees exercise management powers (whether properly delegated or not) there is a risk that they may be personally expo...

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Are you dating or in a de facto relationship?

Tuesday 2 October, 2018

One issue that commonly arises is whether a couple are in a de facto relationship. The reason why this is so important, is that the equal sharing rules of relationship property law apply to de facto relationships of 3 years or more. It also applies to de facto relationships under 3 years, where there is a child and other factors are met.

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Court of Appeal Decision in R J Davidson Family Trust

Thursday 27 September, 2018

The much-anticipated Court of Appeal decision on an appeal from the High Court on the question of whether a consent authority can, or should, have recourse to Part 2 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (“RMA”), when considering resource consent applications under section 104 of the RMA.

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High Court finds Council liable in negligence for damage from fallen tree

Thursday 27 September, 2018

The High Court has held that the Queenstown Lakes District Council (“Council”) breached its duty of care to Plaza Investments Ltd (“Plaza”) by failing to prevent a rotting 30-metre-tall Lombardy poplar tree in a Council-owned park from falling onto Plaza’s motel. Council was found liable for the amount required to repair Plaza’s property.

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Court confirms penalty bands under the Health and Safety at Work Act

Thursday 27 September, 2018

When the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) came into force in 2016, the penalties for offences were increased six-fold. We have been waiting for some time for guidance from the High Court as to the sentencing approach and culpability bands under the new legislation to understand just how much bigger the penalties imposed on Persons Conducting a...

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Court of Appeal recognises new public interest defence to defamation claims

Thursday 27 September, 2018

In our ‘Defamation Update’ on 15 September 2017, we discussed the High Court decision in Durie v Gardiner [2017] NZHC 377, [2017] 3 NZLR 72 which recognised that a new defence for “responsible communication on matters of public interest” could apply in New Zealand.

The Court of Appeal has now issued its decision (Durie v Gardiner [2018] NZCA 2...

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Environment Court's Annual Review 2017

Thursday 27 September, 2018

The Environment Court has just released its fourth Annual Review, covering the Court's activities in the 2017 calendar year. This article provides a snapshot of the Annual Review.

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The role of Councils in the 'foreign buyer ban'

Thursday 27 September, 2018

Councils should ensure that a property’s “property category” is included in the searchable property information available on their websites.

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Court upholds sensible approach to local authority works on private property

Tuesday 24 July, 2018

Local authorities have a power to construct works on private property under s 181 of the Local Government Act 2002 with the consent of the owner or after following the process in Schedule 12. The High Court recently ruled that local authorities must only give notice and follow the process under s 181 and Schedule 12 once; the process need not re-s...

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New process for calculating court-awarded interest

Tuesday 24 July, 2018

A new process for calculating Court-awarded interest on debt and compensation claims came into force on 1 January 2018 that more fairly compensates creditors and has potential application to Public Works Act acquisitions.

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New RMA Compliance Oversight Unit and best practice guidelines

Tuesday 24 July, 2018

A new unit is to be established to oversee compliance with the Resource Management Act 1991 (‘RMA’).

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Should Councillors see Council reports?

Tuesday 24 July, 2018

The answer will almost always be “yes”, but Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has had reservations. The report in question cost Auckland Council almost $1 million and relates to the proposed national stadium, which could cost $1.5 billion.

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Supreme Court upholds councils' power to fluoridate water

Tuesday 24 July, 2018

On 27 June 2018 the Supreme Court issued a judgment which is of significance to councils across the country.
In 2012 South Taranaki District Council decided to fluoridate the drinking water supply for Patea and Waverley. Both towns had high levels of dental decay. Anti-fluoride group New Health New Zealand Inc brought unsuccessful claims in the H...

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Bella Vista learnings

Tuesday 24 July, 2018

The Hon Paul Heath QC’s review of Tauranga City Council’s (TCC) assessments, decisions and monitoring of the land use, subdivision and building consents for 21 properties in the Bella Vista subdivision is essential reading for any council officer working with the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and the Building Act 2004 (BA).

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New Local Government Bills

Thursday 3 May, 2018

The Local Government (Community Wellbeings) Amendment Bill has passed its first reading and has been referred to select committee.

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Environment report highlights serious land issues

Thursday 3 May, 2018

A new comprehensive report on the state of land in New Zealand has been published by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ. Our Land 2018 is the first land specific report produced under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015.

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New guidance on publicly available official information

Thursday 3 May, 2018

The Ombudsman has recently released a useful guide relating to the power not to provide official information that is or soon will be publicly available.

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High Court guidance on HASHAA

Thursday 3 May, 2018

A very recent High Court decision on the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 (HASHAA) provides valuable guidance to councils with established special housing areas (SHAs) or in the midst of discussions with the Minister to establish SHAs.

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Bright-line test extended to 5 years

Wednesday 4 April, 2018

As signalled by the Government during the 2017 election and again in February 2018, the bright-line test for tax on the disposal of residential land has now been extended to 5 years.

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Caselaw Update

Friday 9 March, 2018

Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust v Invercargill City Council [2017] NZSC 190

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Must Councils accept an assertion that a person is ‘suitably qualified'?

Friday 9 March, 2018

The issue was considered in the recent Environment Court case David Mulholland Consulting Engineer Ltd v Whanganui District Council [2018] NZEnvC 10.

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Briefing to the Incoming Minister for the Environment

Friday 9 March, 2018

MfE prepared two BIMs, one on the environment portfolio generally and one specifically relevant to water issues.

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Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Local Government

Friday 9 March, 2018

The Department of Internal Affairs prepared a single BIM for the new Minister for Local Government ...

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Proposed Employment Law Changes

Friday 9 March, 2018

The Labour-led Government has recently announced the first round of the employment law reforms that it promised pre-election. Although changes were expected, the exact nature and extent of those changes had previously been unknown.

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Alert: Ombudsman's warning to Local Government

Friday 9 March, 2018

Ombudsman Peter Boshier has recently hit out at local government, saying that councils are not meeting their LGOIMA obligations and seem to resent being held accountable.

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Employment law reforms announced

Friday 5 January, 2018

The Labour-led coalition Government has recently announced the first round of the employment law reforms that it promised pre-election. Although change was expected, the exact nature and extent of those changes had previously been unknown.

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Trusts, Gifting and the Rest Home Subsidy

Thursday 23 November, 2017

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) administers the Social Security Act 1964. The Act includes a residential care subsidy regime which concerns the cost of rest home care (commonly called the rest home subsidy).

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Forest and Bird decision

Thursday 23 November, 2017

The recent Supreme Court decision in Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co Ltd v Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc [2017] NZSC 106 is a timely reminder for local authorities and other parties exercising statutory decision making powers to be fully aware of all relevant factors when exercising such powers.

In addition, the d...

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Slippery slopes: local authority liability for landslips

Thursday 23 November, 2017

Councils owe various different potential duties in relation to damage caused by landslips. In this Legal brief, we comment on a recent case where a Council was held liable for damage caused by a landslip. While the slip itself was triggered by natural causes, the underlying instability was the result of earthworks carried out by the Council more ...

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Responding to a workplace accident

Thursday 23 November, 2017

It is important to have a plan in place outlining how you will respond to a workplace accident in order to balance the need to satisfy your responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (‘the Act’) and the need to protect your interests in the event of a prosecution.

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New Statutory requirements for consent conditions

Thursday 23 November, 2017

Section 108AA of the Resource Management Act 1991 (“the RMA”) was inserted as part of the recent resource legislation amendments and came into effect on 18 October 2017. The new section introduces restrictions which limit the scope of conditions that may be imposed on a resource consent, in addition to the requirements of sections 108 and 220.

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Actual and reasonable costs principles

Thursday 23 November, 2017

Local authorities when levying additional charges pursuant to Section 36 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) must ensure that those charges reflect the actual and reasonable costs in relation to the activity. We review a recent High Court decision – Porirua City Council v Ellis [2017] NZHC 784 – where the Court upheld an Environment Court dec...

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Minister to reverse new non-notification law

Thursday 23 November, 2017

Environment Minister David Parker has indicated that the Government will attempt to reform the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) which was amended in April this year through the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (RLAA).

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Defamation update

Friday 15 September, 2017

Local body authorities and politicians need to be particularly mindful of defamation law. In our defamation update we outline recent developments in defamation law and set out ways that local bodies can manage their defamation risk.

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Local Authorities owe a duty of care to their neighbours

Friday 15 September, 2017

Local authorities owe the same duty of care to their neighbours as any other owners or occupiers of land. We review a recent High Court decision - Double J Smallwoods Ltd v Gisborne District Council [2017] NZHC 1284 - which held a local authority negligent for fire damage to a neighbouring sawmill operation, as a result of its failure to reduce the...

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Local Authorities' decision-making requirements - Court of Appeal decision

Friday 15 September, 2017

In the recent Court of Appeal decision of Wellington City Council v Minotaur Custodians Limited [2017] NZCA 302 (Brown, Simon France and Williams JJ), the Court overturned the decision of the High Court, holding that Part 6 of the Local Government Act 2002 gives local authorities a broad discretion as to how to meet their statutory decision-making ...

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Tendering pitfalls: the importance of "no process contract" clauses

Friday 15 September, 2017

In The Rintoul Group Limited v Far North District Council [2017] NZHC 1132, the Council was found to have breached a tender “process contract” and potentially liable for significant damages to an unsuccessful tenderer. We comment on the case and explain how the outcome could have been avoided.

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New Bill extends enforcement powers under the LGA

Friday 15 September, 2017

A Member’s Bill from The Honourable Jonathan Young (National MP), the Local Government (Freedom of Access) Amendment Bill, was recently introduced to Parliament. The Bill proposes to widen the scope of enforcement officer powers to remove property (such as structures and tents) from council land – a power which will no doubt be welcomed by councils...

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LGOIMA Update - Ombudsman's dedicated webpage for councils

Friday 15 September, 2017

The Office of the Ombudsman is taking proactive steps to provide advice and guidance to agencies (including local authorities). In earlier Legal Briefs we have referred you to the guide, ‘The LGOIMA for local government agencies’ and summarised the Ombudsman’s new approach to ‘delay complaints’. In this edition, we summarise a recent addition to th...

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Health and Safety - Duty to consult, co-operate and co-ordinate

Friday 15 September, 2017

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 imposes a new duty on local authorities, as “persons conducting a business or undertaking” (PCBUs), to consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities, so far as is reasonably practicable, with all other PCBUs who share health and safety responsibilities in relation to particular work.

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Bribery of a public official

Thursday 13 July, 2017

The high profile prosecution of a former public official and a private roading contractor in R v Borlase and Noone [2016] NZHC 2970 raises interesting issues as to what constitutes acceptable gifts, entertainment and hospitality when engaging with the public sector in the context of New Zealand’s bribery and corruption laws.

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The Ombudsman's new approach to 'delay' complaints

Thursday 13 July, 2017

The Office of the Ombudsman has just announced that, from 1 July 2017, it will be taking a new approach to how it responds to complaints about delays in making and communicating decisions on requests for official information within the maximum statutory timeframe (i.e. 20 working days).

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Requiring authority status for irrigation scheme operators

Thursday 13 July, 2017

Ministerial approval of private entities as requiring authorities under section 167 of the RMA is, after the initial rush following commencement of the Act in October 1991, comparatively infrequent these days. There was no corresponding Ministerial power in the former Town and Country Planning Act, so the emergence of private entities able to desi...

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Update on RJ Davidson Family Trust

Thursday 13 July, 2017

In our last Legal Brief we discussed the implications of the High Court’s decision in RJ Davidson Family Trust v Marlborough District Council [2016] NZEnvC 81 to resource consent applications. The High Court held that the King Salmon principles regarding the application of Part 2 of the RMA to the preparation of plans, also apply to resource consen...

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Clarity for supermarkets or not?

Thursday 13 July, 2017

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority has recently provided clarity on a supermarkets ability to display and promote alcohol within single alcohol areas. ARLA’s decision has been appealed to the High Court.

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Relief for grocery stores

Thursday 13 July, 2017

The Government are making changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act to enable grocery stores to continue to sell alcohol.

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Duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

Thursday 13 July, 2017

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 imposes different health and safety duties on different people, depending on their role in the workplace. Local authorities need to be aware of these duties and adopt a cautious approach in reducing the risk of a workplace accident.

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Increased Compensation available under the Public Works Act

Monday 12 June, 2017

With the Government’s recent budget announcement of $32.5 billion infrastructure spending over the next four years, it is anticipated that the use of compulsory acquisition powers under Public Works Act 1981 (“PWA”) may be necessary to ensure that such projects can be completed. Recent changes to the PWA have been introduced with the intention to ...

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King Salmon applies to resource consents

Wednesday 17 May, 2017

Following the Supreme Court’s finding in EDS v NZ King Salmon [2014] NZSC 38, that there is generally no need (or ability) to refer back to the purpose and principles in Part 2 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (which was in the context of a plan change), there was some uncertainty as toits application in respect of resource consent applications ...

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High Court determines property arrangement is not a "subdivision"

Wednesday 17 May, 2017

Clearspan Property Assets Ltd v Spark New Zealand Trading Ltd [2017] NZHC 277 is a recent decision of the High Court which deals with the nexus between the law of property rights and the law regulating the use of land. The High Court overturned the unanimous decision of two Judges of the Environment Court in Spark New Zealand Trading Ltd [2016] NZ...

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Case review: Invercargill City Council v Southland

Wednesday 17 May, 2017

This case looks at the obligations a Council may have when issuing Code Compliance Certificates, particularly in relation to the extent of any duty of care that may be owed to property owners.

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Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

Wednesday 17 May, 2017

New Zealand’s poor health and safety record in the workplace has led to significant reforms in the law and the organisations governing this area.

In June 2012, the Minister of Labour established the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety to research and critically evaluate New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system and to rec...

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Your Periodic Discovery Reminder

Wednesday 17 May, 2017

This periodic reminder comments on two particular issues that can pose challenges to organisations dealing with litigation: the duty to preserve documents, and the application of privilege to reports prepared internally or externally in the course of seeking legal advice or preparing for apprehended or actual proceedings.

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Key changes to limitations for civil claims

Monday 13 March, 2017

Limitation regimes are designed to protect defendants from stale claims. Claims that are brought many years after the relevant events are problematic for defendants (and their insurers), who may no longer have access to the evidence and witnesses they need to adequately defend themselves.

From 1 January 2011 the Limitation Act 2010 replaced the ...

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Plan Change 1 to the Waikato Regional Plan – “Healthy Rivers” Update

Submissions on proposed Plan Change 1 close on 8 March 2017 at 5pm. The submission process provides opportunity for those affected by PPC1 to have their say about its provisions. It gives a submitter the right to participate in the hearing process and influence outcomes. If you would like any assistance to complete your submission or wish to dis...

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Farming Directorships - A due diligence guide

This guide was developed between the Institute of Directors, its Waikato Branch and DairyNZ, with input from Tompkins Wake and BDO

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Conscious Uncoupling - an alternative approach to separation

When actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin announced they were splitting after ten years of marriage, they did not use the word “divorce”, but “conscious uncoupling”.
New Zealand's family justice system aims for civilised separations to be the rule, particularly where children are involved.

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