Contents

Chapter 10
The Commercial List and specialisation in the High Court

Conclusion

10.66In all the circumstances, and after carefully considering the very helpful submissions we received in this subject area, we consider that a sufficient need has been made out for the establishment of a commercial panel in the High Court. However, we are not presently satisfied, on the information currently available to us, that other panels or other sub-sets are justifiable at this stage.

10.67We do not consider that a commercial panel, or indeed other particular panels, should be created by the legislation itself. Rather, we think that legislation should empower the Attorney-General, with the concurrence of the Chief High Court Judge, to establish panels in the High Court by Order in Council. The precise number and placement of those judges on a panel should be a matter for the Chief High Court Judge, and there should be a senior High Court judge assigned as the head of any panel. It may be desirable to have more flexible rules adduced for the benefit of the commercial panel work. That is a matter which can readily be attended to by the Rules Committee.

10.68The extent of the jurisdiction of the High Court’s commercial panel, and so how much work is moved into it from the general ready list, will need to be settled. The definition utilised in the Commercial Court in London would be a useful starting point for consideration. It may be that intellectual property could usefully be added to that list. While on the figures available to us at the time there is no case for a separate panel under this head, a number of submissions were made in support of this proposition and this area is important to the New Zealand economy.

10.69We consider it important to the High Court collectively, and to the judges concerned, that their secondment to the commercial panel should not exceed 50 per cent of their sitting time. If it transpires that more commercial panel sitting time is required, then more judges should be added to the panel, rather than detracting from the 50:50 ratio. This is very much a management matter for the Chief High Court Judge.

10.70The commercial panel could usefully be regarded as a pilot project as to how a panel system will best work in New Zealand. The Chief High Court Judge should be required to report on its operations to the Attorney-General, 24 months after its establishment.

10.71To assist with determining whether any other panels are required in the future, the Ministry of Justice should ensure that further and better particulars of the classes of work being processed in the trial and appellate courts is made publicly available, in its Annual Reports, and on the Courts of New Zealand website.

10.72Finally, the Commercial List, and any accompanying rules, should be dissolved.

R45New courts legislation should empower the Attorney-General, with the concurrence of the Chief High Court Judge, to establish panels in the High Court by Order in Council.

R46The precise number and placement of those judges on a panel should be a matter for the Chief High Court Judge, although no judge should spend more than 50 per cent of his or her time on a panel.

R47There should be a senior High Court judge assigned as the head of any panel.

R48Matters of practice and procedure relating to any panels should be considered by the Rules Committee.

R49A commercial panel should be established in the High Court, with a jurisdiction largely mirroring that of the Commercial Court in London, with the addition of intellectual property.

R50The commercial panel should be regarded as a pilot project, and the Chief High Court Judge should be required to report on its operations to the Attorney-General, 24 months after its establishment.

R51The Ministry of Justice should ensure that further and better particulars of the classes of work being processed in the trial and appellate courts are made publicly available, in its Annual Reports, and on the Courts of New Zealand website.

R52The Commercial List and any accompanying rules should be dissolved.