Law Reform: Less Australia/New Zealand legal divide

Posted on September 11th, 2009

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Published by Law Society of New South Wales

The Australian and New Zealand governments have signed an agreement to make it easier to enforce certain judgments and sanctions between the two countries. It is also intended to streamline the process for resolving civil proceedings that cross the Tasman.

The direct result of this reform will be that parties in Australia or New Zealand with decisions not involving money that are captured by the trans-Tasman law reform will have more options for enforcement and a higher likelihood of success in enforcing when the defendant is in the other country or has property there.

The majority of civil proceedings will be able to be served in the other country without separately seeking permission from a local court, excluding such civil proceedings as dissolution of marriage, enforcement of maintenance obligations and enforcement of child support.

Also, courts in each country will be able to stop proceedings on the ground that a court across the Tasman is the more appropriate forum. Some nonmoney judgments will also now be enforceable trans-Tasman.

The reforms will expand the types of orders enforceable between Australian and New Zealand courts to include final non-money orders. This is one of the most significant reforms proposed in the agreement.

Also, the proposed reciprocal recognition of decisions in mutually agreed tribunals will mean there is no need for disputes to go to court again in the other jurisdiction. The law reform allows New Zealand and Australian courts to enforce non-money judgments which require defendants to do, or refrain from doing, something in the other sphere.

However, non-money judgments requiring a high level of supervision, such as administration of deceased estates and care of children, will not be able to be registered in the other country.

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