New Zealand Law Society - PLS E-Bulletin 3 March 2022

PLS E-Bulletin 3 March 2022

Tēnā koe 

Bulletin briefly: 

1.  Covid – self-isolation and property settlements

An issue we have been actively considering is the impact of self-isolation on contracts and property settlements.  We have been in liaison with the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) to seek clarification on whether a person is allowed to move houses when they are contractually obliged to do so, when at the same time they are having to self-isolate (either with Covid or as a close contact).  A typical scenario might be that a person has sold their home, the settlement date is looming and the buyer expects to move in, but then the vendor has to self-isolate across a period that covers the settlement date.

The DPMC responded saying that there aren’t currently permissions or exemptions in the s70 Health Act order to leave self-isolation because of a house purchase contract, for example.  The Ministry of Health is reviewing the orders, but won’t be able to remedy this matter in the short-term, given other priority changes underway.

So, for now, clients that are isolating (whether or not they have Covid) should be reminded that there is no exemption to move and they will need to negotiate alternative arrangements if their contract does not contain a bespoke Covid isolation clause that deals with this scenario.  We are seeing a few iterations of such clauses in contracts, and we will continue to monitor developments in this area and provide further guidance as needed.  Fortunately this situation will be somewhat mitigated at Phase 3 by the shorter isolation times under the Covid Protection Framework, the reduction in numbers of people having to self-isolate due to the recently updated definition of close contacts, and the hopefully rapid passing of Omicron.

It will be important for lawyers to discuss this with their clients and to work to negotiate arrangements to suit their circumstances.  At the same time we note that further discussions are continuing with the DPMC to find a pragmatic solution to this as we are aware that it is not ideal and it should be entirely possible in most cases for settlements to happen without creating a public health risk.

2.  Land Acquisition Resolution Service (LARS) - Waka Kotahi/LINZ

Land Acquisition Resolution Service (LARS) is a free and independent mediation service to help landowners and the Crown quickly reach agreements during processes where government agencies wish to acquire land.  Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Authority have worked together to design and implement LARS, an initial two-year pilot mediation service for property acquisition disputes arising out of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme.  The service will be provided by FairWay Resolution.  Further details can be found here and in this brochure
The mediator panel will remain open throughout the pilot; email FairWay for information on how to submit an expression of interest to join the panel.
3.  PLS Accredited Specialists – renewals and new applications

Renewal notices will soon be sent to all current PLS Accredited Specialists.  If you are unsure about whether a CPD activity qualifies for PLS points, or have any questions, please email or call 0275 511 559.

We are also now inviting new Accredited Specialist applications, in advance of the annual intake which runs from 1 April 2022 to 30 April 2022.  You will need 10+ years of property law experience; have completed 100 PLS points’ worth of property-related professional development between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022; and to meet some additional criteria (member login required).

Now is a good time to review the professional development you have done so far, to make sure you are on track to be eligible this year.  Professional development can be completed as part of your regulatory NZLS CPD, or it may need to be in addition that if your regulatory CPD is not property-related.

4.  PLS elections – nominations reminder

Nominations are open for this year’s PLS Executive Committee elections.  If you are ready and keen to step up to a leadership position within the PLS, please put your name forward.

Only full members of the PLS are eligible to be elected to the Executive Committee.  Individual members may nominate themselves or they can nominate another Section member, with that person’s consent.

Interested members should complete the attached nomination form and return it by email to by 5pm, Monday 7 March 2022.

Mark Sherry
Property Law Section Chair

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