2.1 Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is New Zealand’s final court of appeal and, as such, the Supreme Court has the role of maintaining overall coherence in the legal system.

Located in Wellington, the Supreme Court has up to six judges, including the Chief Justice.

The Supreme Court replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as New Zealand’s final court of appeal on 1 July 2004.

The Supreme Court was established to recognise New Zealand as an independent nation with its own history and traditions and improve access to justice and enable important legal matters, including those relating to the Treaty of Waitangi, to be resolved with an understanding of New Zealand conditions, history and traditions.

The court considers applications for leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal and in special circumstances, directly from the High Court for both civil and criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court may hear and determine an appeal against a decision made in a civil proceeding in a New Zealand Court. The only exception to this, is the Court of Appeal or the High Court to the extent only that an enactment other than the Senior Courts Act 2016 provides for the bringing of an appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court. Appeals to the Supreme Court may be heard only with the court’s leave. It must give leave to appeal only if it is satisfied that it is necessary in the interests of justice.

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