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When will the Environment Court recall a judgment?

When will the Environment Court recall a judgment?

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”).

PHT wanted to subdivide its property on the Otago Peninsula and construct building platforms. Local residents appealed the grant of resource consent because of the proposal’s effects on the environment, non-compliance with plans (particularly the minimum lot size) and location in an outstanding natural landscape area. In its Interim Decision, the Court held that it needed supplementary evidence to decide the application. PHT failed to submit the supplementary evidence despite being granted two extensions of time, so the Court made a Final Decision to allow the residents’ appeal. PHT applied to the Court to recall the Final Decision so that it could supply the requested material in keeping with the Court’s previous Directions.

The Court accepted that justice to the parties should be the focus of its decision to grant the recall. The Court stated that a recall is only permitted in three situations:

  1. Where there has been a change in a relevant law or court decision after a hearing that affects the outcome of the matter;
  2. Where legal counsel has failed to inform the Court about a particular law or decision that should apply to the matter; and
  3. Where it would be unjust to the parties to leave a decision unperfected.

The Court decided that no prejudice would be created against the other parties by recalling the Final Decision, as the purpose of a rehearing would be to consider the outstanding evidence. The Court granted PHT’s application for a recall of the Final Decision, as it was in the interests of justice to allow PHT to submit the outstanding material and give the other parties the opportunity to respond.

The power to recall a judgement must not be abused by courts. Courts can only recall a judgement if it falls within one of the three established categories.


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