In Dench v Gates, the New Zealand High Court considered its inherent jurisdiction to set aside a bankruptcy notice to prevent an abuse of process. Mrs Gates, the judgment debtor, had applied to the High Court to set aside a bankruptcy notice. The bankruptcy notice was based on an award of costs against Mrs Gates in respect of earlier District Court litigation initiated by her against Mr Dench, a solicitor, on the basis that he had conducted himself dishonestly while representing his client in a separate matter, in which Mrs Gates was the plaintiff. The District Court in that proceeding found no basis upon which Mrs Gates could sue Mr Dench. It held that a lawyer engaged in litigation on behalf of his client owes no duty of care to his client's opponent.

On the application to set aside the bankruptcy notice, the High Court found that it was inappropriate in this case to exercise its inherent jurisdiction on the basis that there was no abuse of process in the underlying decision and further, although Mrs Gates was at a disadvantage because she was self-represented, this factor alone is not sufficient to suggest there was any miscarriage of justice.

See court decision here.