Contents

Summary of recommendations

Chapter 13 – Jurisdiction of the courts

High Court and District Court jurisdiction

R40 The new Trusts Act should provide that:
(1) The High Court has jurisdiction to hear any matter and make any order under the proposed new Trusts Act. It should have exclusive jurisdiction to determine any proceeding under the new Act where the amount claimed, or the value of the property claimed or in issue, is more than the upper limit of the equitable jurisdiction of the District Court specified in section 34(1) of the District Courts Act 1947 (currently $200,000) or any replacement provision.
(2) The District Court should have jurisdiction under the new Act (concurrent with the High Court) to determine any proceeding where the amount claimed or the value of the property claimed or in issue is not more than the upper limit of the equitable jurisdiction of the District Court (currently $200,000).
(3) The District Court should also have jurisdiction (concurrent with the High Court) to determine any proceedings or applications (such as an application to appoint or remove a trustee) that does not involve any claim for money or property.
(4) Where the District Court and High Court have concurrent jurisdiction the person who commences proceedings (the applicant) may decide whether to commence the proceedings in the District Court or High Court.
(5) Section 43 of the District Courts Act 1947 should apply to the transfer of proceedings commenced in the District Court. The effect of this would be that:
(a) where the proceedings involve a claim for money, relief or property with a value that exceeds the amount specified in section 43 (currently $50,000) a defendant may object to the proceeding being determined in the District Court and have the proceeding transferred (as of right) to the High Court; and  
(b) where the proceedings do not include a claim for money, relief or property with a value that exceeds the amount specified in section 43 a defendant wishing to transfer the proceedings must apply to the District Court for an order removing the proceedings to the High Court. Proceedings that do not include any claim for money, relief or property fall within this category under section 43.
Notes
(1) The Government has announced, in response to the Law Commission Report Review of the Judicature Act 1908: Towards a New Courts Act that new courts legislation soon to be introduced will increase the upper financial limit of the District Court's equitable jurisdiction from $200,000 to $350,000 and will increase the threshold specified in section 43 over which claims may be transferred as of right to the High Court from $50,000 to $90,000.
(2) Section 237 of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 will apply to give the Māori Land Court all of the powers of the High Court under the proposed new Trusts Act in respect of trusts to which Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 applies.

Family Court jurisdictionTop

R41 Where the Family Court has jurisdiction under section 11 of the Family Courts Act 1980 to hear and determine proceedings:
(1) The Family Court should be able to make any order or give any direction available under the new Trusts Act during those proceedings where the Court considers such order or direction necessary to:
(a) protect or preserve any property or interest until the proceedings before the Court can be properly resolved; or  
(b) to give proper effect to any determination of the proceedings before the Court.
(2) Where the parties consent, the Family Court should also be able to make any orders under the new Trusts Act to resolve any closely related dispute or issue between the parties where this is necessary or would assist the resolution of the substantive proceedings between the parties.
Note
The Family Court’s jurisdiction under the new Trusts Act would not be subject to financial limits.