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 Development of the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010

Trans-Tasman Working Group on Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement

In 2003, former Prime Ministers the Hon John Howard MP and the Rt Hon Helen Clark MP agreed to create a trans-Tasman working group to examine the effectiveness and appropriateness of the framework governing private civil litigation proceedings between the two countries. The working group, which was chaired by Ian Govey from the Australian Attorney-General’s Department and Andrew Bridgman from the New Zealand Ministry of Justice produced a discussion paper in August 2005 which invited submissions on the issues within the Working Group’s Terms of Reference. The working group received thirty-two submissions from various law councils, private firms, academics and public institutions on both sides of the Tasman.

In December 2006, the working group delivered their report making ten recommendations detailing how the legal framework for resolving civil disputes with a trans-Tasman element might be improved. The central recommendation of the working group was that a trans-Tasman regime modelled on the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Cth) (SEPA) be introduced between the two countries. The SEPA governs Australian interstate service of any initiating process issued out of a state or territory court. The regime effectively extends personal jurisdiction of all state and territory courts to the whole of Australia and gives them all the right to compel the appearance of any person in the country.

The Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand on Trans-Tasman Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement

The 2008 agreement on Trans-Tasman Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement signed in Christchurch largely reflects the 2006 recommendations of the working group. The structure of the arrangement was also adopted from the working group‘s suggestion that the agreement be recorded in a treaty and mirror legislation be developed in both countries to implement the scheme. As stated in Article 2, the objective of the agreement is to ‘streamline the process for resolving civil proceedings with a trans-Tasman element in order to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and minimize existing impediments to enforcing certain judgments and regulatory sanctions.’

The 16 article treaty is relatively short given its ambitious scope. The essential elements of the treaty allow the trans-Tasman service of initiating processes in civil proceedings and the trans-Tasman registration and enforcement of judgments (Part 2), trans-Tasman regulatory enforcement of civil penalty orders and certain regulatory offences (Part 3) and remote appearances by parties or their legal representatives (Part 4).