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Courts remain an essential service throughout all COVID-19 restrictions, but may operate differently.
Please check the Courts of NZ website for the latest court protocols: Current court protocols related to COVID-19(external link)
For more information for court users, see: Information for all court and tribunal users.
The High Court is New Zealand’s only court of general jurisdiction. ‘General jurisdiction’ means there are no limits on the cases the High Court can hear, either in terms of the kind of criminal offences it can hear or the amount of money being claimed in a civil case.
The High Court is the highest court in New Zealand that is able to hear cases at ‘first instance’, before any appeals.
The High Court also hears appeals from a number of other courts and tribunals, such as the District Court and Family Court.
The High Court has 19 court locations throughout New Zealand. Each High Court has an office (court registry) which is where applications for the court are received.
The daily list contains information about court business in the High Court. Details in the daily list include the date, court, courtroom and the case(s) to be heard on a particular day.
If you are a party in High Court proceedings or thinking about court action, you may want to talk to a lawyer or get a lawyer to represent you. If your company is a party in High Court proceedings you should get legal advice as companies usually have to be represented by a lawyer.
You can search for a lawyer on the New Zealand Law Society website by area of practice, such as criminal and civil litigation.
Alternatively, you may be able to get free legal help through Community Law:
You may need to pay a fee if you have proceedings in the High Court. If you are a party in a civil case it is almost certain that you will have to pay fees.
Fees for the High Court are fixed (‘prescribed’) by regulation:
If you have a question about fees please contact one of the following High Court registries:
You can apply to waive, postpone or refund fees. An application is considered by a registrar or deputy registrar of the court against criteria set out in the fee regulations.
Many court forms and documents must be set out in a certain way which is fixed (prescribed) by legislation. The content and details to be included in a form or document will be specific to the particular circumstances of a case, and may need specialist legal advice to draft it.
If a lawyer is representing you in a court case, your lawyer will be able to help with the forms and documents.
If you are going to court without a lawyer, you will be responsible for identifying the forms and documents you will use.
Decisions of the High Court may be publicly available in PDF format through the Judicial Decisions Online database or Judgments of Public Interest on the Courts of New Zealand website.
The purpose of the Judicial Decisions Online database is to make a greater number of decisions from the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court available to the public. The database is managed by the Ministry and decisions are published after delivery to the parties, but no earlier than three days after the decisions are delivered.
The purpose of Judgments of Public Interest on the Courts of New Zealand website is to publish decisions from the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court that are deemed to be of significant legal and public interest. Decisions on this website are published for 90 days.
More information about the criteria for publication is available on each of these websites.
Some court decisions are not publicly available due to restrictions on publication, such as a statutory prohibition or judicial order restricting publication. These decisions can only be accessed by applying to the relevant High Court to search and access court documents.
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