ORGANISATIONS CONDUCTING business between Australia and New Zealand will benefit from the work of a trans-Tasman working group focused on simplifying court proceedings and regulatory enforcement.
Last week’s release of a discussion paper by the Trans-Tasman Working Group, entitled Trans-Tasman Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement, is the result of collaboration between officials from both countries. It is expected to result in better cooperation in civil court proceedings between the countries, Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock said last week.
“This will benefit organisations conducting business across the Tasman and individuals caught up in trans-Tasman legal disputes,” Ruddock said.
While the two countries already have a “great deal” of trust and confidence in each other’s legal systems, Ruddock said, the discussion paper proposes greater cooperation in order to resolve trans-Tasman disputes more efficiently and at a lower cost. It is hoped the paper will help to reduce barriers to trans-Tasman trade.
The working group identified problems with the current trans-Tasman arrangement for service of process, taking evidence and enforcing judgements in civil penalty proceedings and certain criminal regulatory proceedings, the discussion paper states.
Australia and New Zealand courts have broad jurisdiction to allow service of proceedings on a defendant overseas, the paper states. “If a defendant served overseas does not submit to the court’s jurisdiction , the resulting judgement may not be enforceable in the other country. This is undesirable, given the increasing movement of people, assets and services across the Tasman.”
The working group recommends allowing initiating process in civil proceedings begun in an Australian jurisdiction, or any New Zealand court, to be served in the country without leave. Citing 10 other issues, the discussion paper invites appropriate submissions on the working group’s proposals.
The proposals are hoped to contribute to the success of closer economic relations between Australia and New Zealand and the move towards a single economic market. As well, the A-G said, they will assist in resolving personal disputes where one party has moved across the Tasman.
The proposed changes would make it possible to enforce civil penalties and certain criminal fines for regulatory offences across the Tasman. They would increase the effectiveness of both countries’ regulatory rules in areas where this is of mutual benefit.