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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 18 May 2021

Steel & Tube decision: Court of Appeal rules on sentencing and determining company's state of mind

After pleading guilty to 24 representative charges under the Fair Trading Act for false representations relating to seismic grade mesh, Steel & Tube received a fine from the District Court, which was increased by the High Court. In a notable decision, the Court of Appeal subsequently considered the appeal against the sentence. Although convictions under the Fair Trading Act are not uncommon,......
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 13 Oct 2020

Cryptocurrencies as property

The NZ High Court recently held that cryptocurrency constitutes property at common law and is therefore capable of being held on trust. The decision has brought welcome certainty to the legal status of cryptocurrency in New Zealand and will give more comfort to those trading in cryptocurrencies throughout the country. Recognition of cryptocurrency as property is an important step in......
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 6 Oct 2020

Contractual interpretation revisited

In what may turn out to be a landmark decision, the Court of Appeal recently signalled a narrowing of the approach to contractual interpretation, reducing the relevance of evidence from outside a contract to determine its meaning. Two of the issues on appeal concerned the meaning of a sale agreement and its 2012 amendment, bringing issues of contractual interpretation to the forefront of the......
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 29 Sep 2020

Court of Appeal confirms right to cancel insurance contract for fraudulent claims

A recent Court of Appeal decision highlights the consequences which flow from an insured providing dishonest information in support of an insurance claim. It is the first appellate-level consideration of the fraudulent claims rule in New Zealand and confirms both that the duty of utmost good faith is an implied contractual term and that the legislative framework in the Contract and Commercial......
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 21 Jul 2020

Contractual penalties: Supreme Court confirms New Zealand's adoption of recast penalty rule

At first instance and then on appeal, the High Court and the Court of Appeal adopted a recast rule against contractual penalties, reflecting developments in England and Australia. The Supreme Court has now delivered its judgment, confirming New Zealand's adoption of the recast rule and clarifying the test and its relationship with concepts of unconscionability and the relative bargaining......
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 26 May 2020

First judicial consideration of COVID-19 decisions

The High Court recently issued a decision on a judicial review application which challenged the lawfulness of exemption decisions made pursuant to an order under the Health Act and sought urgent interim relief. The decision was the first consideration by the court of the lawfulness of actions taken during the exercise of the sweeping powers assumed by the government in response to the......
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 28 Apr 2020

Opting in or opting out: representative action

Representative actions, New Zealand's version of class actions, are becoming increasingly frequent across the litigation landscape. Notably, the Court of Appeal recently issued what may be a landmark decision for the future of representative actions in New Zealand. In overturning a decision of the High Court, the Court of Appeal approved the plaintiffs bringing a representative action in......
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 21 Apr 2020

Clear course charted through loss of a chance quagmire

Two recent decisions have provided insightful authority in New Zealand on a challenging area of law: the loss of a chance doctrine. The significant feature of a loss of a chance claim is that if a plaintiff proves that it has lost a chance of some value, the damages to which it is entitled will be assessed on a probabilities basis, rather than the usual civil all-or-nothing standard.
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 3 Mar 2020

What constitutes 'hunt or kill'? Supreme Court's shark cage diving decision illustrates interpretation difficulties

Contrary to media reports, the Supreme Court's recent decision in Shark Experience Ltd v PauaMAC5 Inc has expressly left the question of whether shark cage diving is an offence in New Zealand open for a future case in which a breach of Section 63A of the Wildlife Act 1953 is alleged. The decisions of the Supreme Court and the lower courts illustrate the challenges of statutory interpretation......
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Wilson Harle | New Zealand | 22 Oct 2019

Supreme Court confirms that replacement cover rights are not assignable

The Supreme Court recently dismissed an appeal, holding that the right to replacement under an insurance policy cannot be assigned where the insured party has not incurred the reinstatement costs. The case should be considered by homeowners and their brokers when choosing a replacement home insurance policy and by purchasers and their advisers if assignment of claims is in prospect.
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