Enforcing your civil judgment across the ditch just got easier

Wednesday 13th November 2013

New arrangements for resolving civil disputes with people in Australia came into effect on 11 October 2013. 

The arrangements were created by a treaty signed between New Zealand and Australia on 24 July 2008 known as the “Trans-Tasman Agreement”.  Both countries have now enacted legislation to implement the agreement: Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 (New Zealand)[1] and Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 (Australia).

It is now simpler, cheaper and more efficient to resolve civil disputes with anyone based in Australia.  Under the new Act it is now easier to:

  • start New Zealand court proceedings against a person in Australia and undertake service of the initiating court documents in Australia
  • require a person in Australia to give evidence in certain New Zealand proceedings (in some circumstances evidence can be given remotely via video link)
  • ask for cases that were started in Australia to be heard before New Zealand courts in certain circumstances (and vice versa)
  • have a broader range of New Zealand court judgments recognised and enforced in Australia (and vice versa)

The new legislation is not retrospective – it applies to proceedings commenced (or served) from 11 October 2013 and to court decisions given and fines imposed after 11 October 2013. 

Final money judgments and final non-money judgments are both capable of recognition and enforcement.  However, some types of final non-money judgments are excluded:

  • orders about probate, letters of administration or the administration of an estate;
  • orders about the guardianship or management of property of someone who is incapable of managing their personal affairs or property;
  • orders about the care, control or welfare of a child; and
  • orders that, if not complied with, may lead to conviction for an offence in the place where the order was made.

Some types of civil proceedings are also expressly excluded from the new arrangements: dissolution of marriage, enforcement of maintenance options, and enforcement of child support obligations.

The new arrangements will be particularly useful for debt recovery cases where someone has moved across the ditch in an attempt to avoid paying debts.  We also see the new legislation being useful for enforcing judgments relating to intellectual property rights where rights and reputations can be established in both jurisdictions.

This article was written by Natalie Harre

[1] The New Zealand Act is viewable at www.legislation.govt.nz/ 

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