New Zealand Law Society - Earthquake aftermath and customary recognition filings raise High Court workload

Earthquake aftermath and customary recognition filings raise High Court workload

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

During 2017 88.9% of High Court civil judgments were delivered within three months of the hearing or last submissions, a report from the Chief High Court Judge states.

The Year in Review report for 2017 by Justice Geoffrey Venning says  the Court has set a standard of 90% of civil judgments delivered within three months of hearing or last submissions.

At the end of 2017, 26% of active general proceedings in the High Court arose from the Christchurch earthquake sequence. Broken down, 21% of active proceedings related to natural disaster insurance matters and 5% building defects claims (claims of faulty repairs).

photo of witness box

"The on-hand balance of Christchurch earthquake-related proceedings remains high following the rise in new filings in late 2016 and early 2017 to avoid potential Limitation Act bars to commencing proceedings," Justice Venning says.

"That increase in new filings continues to affect clearance rates. The general proceedings clearance rate remains below 100% although it has increased from 91% in 2016 to 94% in 2017. In the Christchurch registry, at 31 December 2017, the proportion of earthquake related general proceedings was 78%, which was made up of 64% insurance claims and 14% building defect claims."

The report also notes that applications for a High Court order for recognition of protected customary rights and customary marine title under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 were required to be filed by 3 April 2017.

It says that before 2017, the Court had received 9 applications. In 2017 a further 193 applications were filed.

"The significant increase in new filings for customary recognition orders has affected the clearance rate for originating applications which has dropped from 98% to 79%. There were 113 general proceedings trials heard in 2017, up from 106 in 2016," Justice Venning says.

There were 130 criminal cases on hand at 31 December 2017 compared to 124 at the same time in 2016. These include cases awaiting sentences.