Defending a proceeding in the High Court

This section outlines how you can defend the following types of proceeding in the High Court:

If you need to defend a proceeding not on this list, please contact your nearest High Court

Defending a general civil proceeding

A person who wants to recover money or settle a dispute with another person or organisation can file an application in the High Court. Generally claims worth less than $200,000 are dealt with in the District Court, while claims worth more than $200,000 are dealt with in the High Court.

A person who starts a proceeding is the plaintiff and the person or organisation against whom a claim is made is the defendant.

Time limit

You will have 25 working days from the day you receive the plaintiff’s documents to file a statement of defence. The date by which you must file a statement of defence will be included in the notice of proceeding (see below, under ‘Documents’).

Documents

If you are the defendant, you should receive two documents from the plaintiff:

  • a statement of claim
  • a notice of proceeding.

If you want to defend a claim, you may choose to file one of the following documents:

You can also choose to file one of the following documents:

Fees

You will need to pay fees to file certain documents. You can find general information about filing fees on this website. The fees you will need to pay are listed on the New Zealand Legislation website under High Court Fees Regulations 2013 (external link)

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Defending an originating application

A person who makes an originating application is called an applicant and a person or organisation against whom orders are sought is a respondent.

If you are a respondent in an originating application, you should receive a document stating the orders that are sought, the grounds on which the orders are sought, and the law or laws that the applicant is relying on. The document should also tell you when the hearing will happen. In most cases you will receive a copy of the applicant’s affidavit that supports the application.

Documents

To defend an originating application you will need to file the following documents:

You can also choose to file an interlocutory application for orders or directions.

Fees

There is a fee for filing a notice of opposition and/or an interlocutory application.

You can find general information about filing fees on this website. The fees you will need to pay are listed on the New Zealand Legislation website under High Court Fees Regulations 2013 (external link)

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Defending a civil appeal

A person who is unhappy with a decision made by a judge or other judicial authority can generally appeal to a higher court for reconsideration – as long as the law allows this. Depending on the laws that are relevant to the particular case, matters from the District Court, the Family Court and various tribunals can be appealed to the High Court.

A person who brings an appeal is an appellant and the opposing party is a respondent.

Documents

If someone appeals a decision to which you were a party, you should receive a copy of the following documents:

  • a notice of appeal
  • a notice stating the time and date of the first call (or conference).

To defend an appeal you do not need to file any documents before the first call (or conference), but you must attend the call or conference.

However, if you also want to appeal the decision, you should file a notice of cross-appeal (at least 2 working days before the first appeal conference).

You can also choose to file an interlocutory application for orders or directions.

Fees

You need to pay fees to file a notice of cross-appeal and any interlocutory application. You can find general information about filing fees on this website. The fees you will need to pay are listed on the New Zealand Legislation website under High Court Fees Regulations 2013 (external link)

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Defending a bankruptcy notice

Before someone can apply to make you bankrupt they need to have obtained a judgment (decision) in a court or tribunal against you for the amount of money owed. Once they have obtained a judgment, that person is referred to as the judgment creditor and you are referred to as the judgment debtor. Only a judgment creditor can apply to make someone bankrupt. You may want to talk to a lawyer about this.

In bankruptcy proceedings a judgment creditor asks the High Court to declare that you are insolvent or unable to pay your debts. If the judgment creditor is successful, your property is transferred to the custody of the Official Assignee and given to the creditor/s. After this happens, you do not need to pay any remaining debts (except for court-ordered fines). For further information on the effect of bankruptcy, see the Insolvency & Trustee Service's website (external link)

Documents

A bankruptcy notice must be served within 6 months of being issued by the court. The bankruptcy notice tells you how much money you owe the judgment creditor. When serving a bankruptcy notice the judgment creditor must attach to the notice a copy of the certificate of judgment or the order, along with a copy of the request to issue a bankruptcy notice

To avoid committing an act of bankruptcy you must do one of the following within the time period stated in the bankruptcy notice:

  1. Pay the amount stated in the bankruptcy notice (including costs), or
  2. Enter into a formal payment agreement with the judgment creditor, or obtain the High Court’s approval for terms of payment, or
  3. Satisfy the High Court that you have a counterclaim, set-off or cross-demand against the judgment creditor that:
    • equals or exceeds the amount claimed by the judgment creditor, and
    • you could not put forward in the action or proceeding in which the judgment or order was obtained.

If you want to enter a formal payment agreement with the judgment debtor but you and the judgment creditor cannot reach agreement, you may file a:

If you and the judgment creditor enter into a formal payment agreement, you do not have to file anything in the High Court. The bankruptcy notice will automatically lapse 3 months after the date it was issued.

If you have a counterclaim, set off or cross-demand against the judgment creditor that equals or exceeds the amount claimed and that you could not put forward previously, you may file an interlocutory application to set aside the bankruptcy notice within 10 days after you were served with that notice. Insolvency is governed by rules 24.1-24.62 of the High Court Rules (external link)

Fees

There is a fee for filing an interlocutory application. You can find general information about filing fees on this website. The fees you will need to pay are listed on the New Zealand Legislation website under High Court Fees Regulations 2013 (external link)

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Defending a creditor’s application for adjudication

If you are served with a summons to debtor you should also receive a copy of the creditor’s application for adjudication and an affidavit that supports the application.

Time limit

If you want to oppose the application you have until 1pm on the last working day before the hearing to file your notice of opposition.

Documents

If you intend to oppose the creditor’s application for adjudication, you must file:

Fees

You will need to pay a fee to file a notice by debtor of intention to oppose a creditor’s application for adjudication.  You can find general information about filing fees on this website. The fees you will need to pay are listed on the New Zealand Legislation website under High Court Fees Regulations 2013 (external link)

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Defending a company liquidation

Liquidation is a similar procedure to bankruptcy but it happens to a company rather than an individual. When a company is put into liquidation the assets of the company are placed into the care of an appointed person (called a liquidator) to be given to the company’s creditors. If you are a company director whose company is the subject of liquidation proceedings, you will need to talk with a lawyer.

Further information on company liquidation can be found on the Insolvency & Trustee Service website (external link)

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Opposing an interlocutory application

An interlocutory application is an application for directions or orders that are secondary to the main claim, usually in relation to the procedure of a case.

Documents

If you want to oppose an interlocutory application filed on notice by another party, you will need to file the following documents:

Fees

You will need to pay a fee to file notice of opposition.  You can find general information about filing fees on this website. The fees you will need to pay are listed on the New Zealand Legislation website under High Court Fees Regulations 2013 (external link)

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