Reported New Zealand Cases

1.    The Contradictors v Attorney-General, Privy Council [2001] 3 NZLR 301 [Trusts and trustees – Public Trust – Displacement of equitable rules by statute – Public Trust common fund – Whether contributors to common fund had beneficial interest in surplus after receiving statutory entitlement – Whether Public Trust Office entitled to surplus – SafeCare investments – Public Trust Office Act 1957, s 30. Practice and procedure – Appeals to Privy Council – Petition for special leave to appeal – Delay caused by procedural errors at first instance – Legislation before House of Representatives based on Court of Appeal decision – Whether delay would cause prejudice to respondents – Privy Council Rules, R 28. Practice and procedure – Representative proceedings – Application concerning large number of beneficiaries not notified of application – Appropriate procedure – High Court Rules, RR 77, 78 and 81(a)]


2.    Rama v Millar Privy Council, [1996] 1 NZLR 257 [Equity — Fiduciary relationship — Liability for breach of fiduciary duty — Whether financially exposed partner entitled to settle dispute with bankers unilaterally — Duty of fiduciary to act honestly and fairly; Practice and procedure — Judgments and orders — Interest on judgments — Commercial rates — Interest on award for breach of fiduciary duty in misapplication of partnership asset — Equitable jurisdiction — Judicature Act 1908, s 87]


3.    Simpson v Attorney-General [Baigent’s Case], Court of Appeal, [1994] 3 NZLR 667 [Constitutional law — New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 — Remedies — Whether civil action for damages is available against the Crown for breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 — Relationship between action for damages under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and actions based on claims in tort — Constitutional law — Crown immunities and privileges — Civil liability — Whether Crown may be vicariously liable for torts committed by persons executing or purporting to execute search warrants – Whether statutory immunities extend to persons who execute warrants in such a way that search is unreasonable in terms of s 21 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 — Crimes Act 1961, ss 26 and 27 — Police Act 1958, s 39 — Crown Proceedings Act 1950, s 6(5); Tort — Cause of action — Crown immunity — Whether Crown immune from claim for damages for trespass, false imprisonment and breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 — Vicarious liability — Whether Commissioner of Police or Deputy Commissioners employer of police officers and vicariously liable for torts committed by them — New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, ss 21, 22 and 23(5) — Police Act 1958, s 39 — Crown Proceedings Act 1950, s 6(5)]


4.    Accident Compensation Corporation v Curtis [1993] 3 NZLR 558 [Accident compensation – Entitlement – Claimants injured in the course of committing criminal offences – Sentences of imprisonment imposed – Applications made to Accident Compensation Corporation for rehabilitation and compensation – Whether, and if so to what extent, it was ”repugnant to justice” to give rehabilitation assistance and to pay compensation to the claimants – Accident Compensation Act 1982, s 92]


5.    Thomson v Rankin, Court of Appeal, [1993] 1 NZLR 408 [Damages – Assessment – Contract for sale of land – Wrongful repudiation – Property not resold for four years – Claim for damages at common law or under Contractual Remedies Act – Whether vendor entitled to claim for lost interest – Whether vendor entitled to claim for loss of bargain – Whether vendor entitled to claim for losses in respect of another property purchased in anticipation of proceeds of sale – Contractual Remedies Act 1979, s 9]


6.    W v Attorney-General; P v Wellington District Court, Court of Appeal, [1993] 1 NZLR 1 [Criminal practice and procedure – Evidence – Sexual offences – Preliminary hearing – Whether leave to cross-examine complainant should be granted – Whether ”necessary in the interests of justice” – Whether special or exceptional reasons to displace protection given by Summary Proceedings Act – Summary Proceedings Act 1957, s 185C – New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, s 24(a)]


7.    Wilson v Wilson Court of Appeal [1991] 1 NZLR 687 [Husband and wife — Matrimonial property — Matrimonial Property Act 1976 (1) Deductible debts — Whether a particular debt has been incurred in the course of a common enterprise carried on by the husband and the wife — Whether ss 20(5)(a) and 20(5)(b) are inconsistent — Whether s 20(2) affects the deductibility of personal debts under s 20(5)(b) — Circumstances in which a personal debt of one spouse is to be met out of matrimonial property — Whether there is a distinction between cases where a spouse pays his or her personal debts out of matrimonial property prior to the hearing and cases where the debts remain unpaid — Matrimonial Property Act 1976, s 20(2), (5) and (6); (2) Division of matrimonial home — Whether there were “extraordinary circumstances” rendering equal sharing “repugnant to justice” — Matrimonial Property Act 1976, s 14; (3) Division of matrimonial property under s 15 — Assessment of contributions under s 18 — Whether a spouse who brings property to the marriage can fairly be said to have created matrimonial property where it is the operation of the statute which converts that previously separate property into matrimonial property — Matrimonial Property Act 1976, ss 15 and 18]


8.    Teletax Consultants Ltd v Williams Court of Appeal [1989] 1 NZLR 698 [Defamation — Defences — Absolute privilege — Communications in course of judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings — Complainant wrote to District Law Society about conduct of solicitor — Society invicted explanation from solicitor who issued defamation proceedings against complainant — Whether letter to Society was a complaint in the course of judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings — Whether contents of letter were privileged — Whether defamation proceedings should be struck out]


9.    Gurusinghe v Medical Council of New Zealand [1989] 1 NZLR 139 [Medicine, pharmacy and related professions — Medical practitioners — Disciplinary proceedings — Medical Council found medical practitioner guilty of four charges of disgraceful conduct and ordered that his name be removed from the medical register and that he pay costs of $20,000 — Charges related to four complainants and were heard together — Whether the charges should have been heard separately — Whether Council’s failure to make some pre-trial disclosure of information to practitioner resulted in a miscarriage of justice — Whether Council’s failure to give reasons had prejudiced practitioner’s right of appeal — Whether misdirection as to corroboration justified a new hearing before the Council — Whether practitioner had been inadequately or negligently legally represented at the hearing before the Council — Whether amount of costs was excessive — Medical Practitioners Act 1968, ss 55, 56 and 58]

10.    Re Chase Court of Appeal [1989] 1 NZLR 325 [Damages — Compensatory and punitive — Jurisdiction — Damages for the death of a person who died as a result of personal injury suffered by accident — While executing a warrant to search the deceased’s flat for a shotgun and cartridges, a police officer mistakenly believed that the deceased was holding a shotgun, and shot and killed him — Personal representative of deceased’s estate claimed compensatory and punitive damages from the Attorney-General — Whether claim for compensatory damages was barred by s 27 of the Accident Compensation Act 1982 — Whether the bar in s 3 of the Law Reform Act 1936, which prevented the recovery of “exemplary damages” by a deceased’s estate, precluded the recovery of punitive damages; Tort — Remedies — Declaratory judgment — While executing a warrant to search the deceased’s flat for shotguns and cartridges, a police officer mistakenly believed that the deceased was holding a shotgun, and shot and killed him — Police investigated the shooting, a Queen’s Counsel made a detailed report on the investigation to the Minister of Police, and the Coroner commented on the incident at the inquest — Although claims for damages were statute-barred, personal representative of deceased’s estate sought a declaration impugning the conduct of the police — Whether any good purpose would be served by making a declaration — Whether a declaration should be made — Declaratory Judgments Act 1908, ss 2 and 10]


11.    Nelson v Dittmer [1988] 2 NZLR 48 [Practice and procedure — Discovery — Particular discovery before proceedings commence — Test to be applied — Insurance company cancelled intending plaintiff’s policies after receiving information that he had made a fraudulent insurance claim — Intending plaintiff believed that a business competitor had been insurance company’s informant — Before commencing defamation proceedings against informant, intending plaintiff sought discovery from the insurance company of the exact words used by its informant — Whether information supplied to insurance company was privileged — whether intending plaintiff was entitled to discovery — whether, if unsuccessful in opposing discovery, insurance company should pay costs — High Court Rules, RR 46 and 299]


12.    Tickner v Wheeler [1985] 3 NZFLR 782 [Proprietary estoppel – Express/constructive trust – Equitable fraud – Elderly relative expending moneys on property on the understanding she could remain there for life – Whether gifts]