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Supreme Court of New Zealand

Ministry of Justice - Courts - The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Act 2003 establishes the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

The Act establishes within New Zealand a new court of final appeal comprising New Zealand judges:

  • to recognise that New Zealand is an independent nation with its own history and traditions; and
  • to enable important legal matters, including legal matters relating to the Treaty of Waitangi, to be resolved with an understanding of New Zealand conditions, history and traditions; and
  • to improve access to justice.

For appeals from New Zealand, the Supreme Court of New Zealand replaces the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council located in London, and came into being on 1 January 2004, with hearings commencing on 1 July 2004.

For further information, go to Courts of New Zealand web site

Appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

The right to appeal from New Zealand-based courts to the United Kingdom-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was abolished as from 1 January 2004 with the establishment of the Supreme Court.

However, under the Supreme Court Act 2003, certain appeals can continue to be determined by the Privy Council, where the Court of Appeal made its final judgment or decision before 1 January 2004, or made it after 31 December 2003 in a proceeding whose hearing was completed before 1 January 2004, provided that before 1 January 2004 an appeal could be made:

  • directly to the Privy Council; or
  • following a successful application to a New Zealand court for leave to appeal to the Privy Council; or
  • following a successful application to the Privy Council for special leave to appeal to it.

Alternatively, in these cases, parties to an appeal can waive their ability to appeal to the Privy Council if the Privy Council has not begun hearing the appeal and all parties agree in writing that an application should be made to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision concerned.