Claims can be commenced in the High Court by filing a statement of claim and notice of proceeding together with additional copies of those documents and $1,350 filing fee in the appropriate registry.

The number of additional copies of your statement of claim and notice of proceeding to be filed will depend on the number of other parties involved in the case. Where only one other party is involved you would include two additional copies of your claim and notice. That way you would end up filing a set for you, a set for the court and a set for the party you are claiming against. You would then include an extra set of copies for each additional party after that. So you would include four sets of documents if you were claiming against two parties at once, and five sets if you were claiming against three parties at once.

Statement of claim

A court case may be commenced in the High Court by statement of claim under rule 5.25 of the High Court Rules.

A statement of claim is a document that explains the reasons for the court case. It would need to describe who you are, what you are claiming, and why you should receive what you are claiming. It would also need to describe who the claim is against and why he, she or it should give you what you are claiming. These descriptions are called ‘pleadings’. See those parts of this text dealing with statements of claim for more.

Notice of proceeding

Rule 5.22 of the High Court Rules provides that a notice of proceeding must be filed with every statement of claim, although rule 5.24 makes some exceptions.

A notice of proceeding is just that: It is a notice of the ‘proceeding’ or ‘court case’ that you are commencing in the Court. The requirements are set out at rule 5.23 of the High Court Rules:

(1)       The notice of proceeding must –                              

(a)       be signed by the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s solicitor:

(b)       state the place for the filing of a statement of defence and the time within which the statement of defence is required to be filed, in accordance with these rules:

(c)        warn the defendant that if a statement of defence is not filed within the required time, the plaintiff may at once proceed to judgment on the plaintiff’s claim and judgment may be given in the absence of the defendant.

(2)       The notice of proceeding must be in form G 2 and must advise the defendant of the defendant’s obligations under rule 8.4 (initial disclosure).

(3)       If the court has directed that any person other than the defendant named in the title of the proceeding is served, a statement to that effect signed by the Registrar and setting out the name, place of residence, and occupation of that person must be annexed to the notice of proceeding.

(4)       A memorandum signed by the Registrar in form G 3, G 4, or G 5 (whichever is appropriate) must be attached to the notice of proceeding.

Notice of proceeding template

You can download a template High Court Notice of Proceeding in form G 2 of the High Court Rules here.

Note that the notice may need to be adjusted depending on the particular circumstances of a case. For example:

1. A memorandum in form G 3 is a generic type of memorandum attached to notices of proceeding in ordinary cases, but a G 4 memorandum may be called for in cases under the Declaratory Judgments Act 1908 and a G 5 memorandum in cases under the Family Protection Act 1955.

2. Rule 6.31 of the High Court Rules requires an additional form, G 6, to be incorporated in a notice of proceeding that is to be served overseas except in Australia under section 13 of the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010.

3. If a notice of proceeding is to be served in Australia under section 13 of the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 then an additional part is required by section 15 of that Act. That additional part is set out in form 1 of the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Regulations and Rules 2013.

Filing fee

Cheques for the $1,350 filing fee may be made out to the Ministry of Justice.

Note that the Court may waive filing fees in certain circumstances upon application made under regulation 18 of the High Court Fees Regulations 2013.

Determining the appropriate High Court registry

Rule 5.1 of the High Court Rules provides:

(1)       The proper registry of the court, for the purposes of rules 5.25 and 19.7, is, –

(a)       when a sole defendant is resident or has a principal place of business in New Zealand, the registry of the court nearest to the residence or principal place of business of the defendant, but when there are 2 or more defendants, the proper registry is determined by reference to the first-named defendant who is resident or has a principal place of business in New Zealand:

(b)       when no defendant is resident or has a principal place of business in New Zealand, the registry the plaintiff selects:

(c)        when the Crown is a defendant, the registry nearest to the place where the cause of action or a material part of it arose:

(d)       despite paragraphs (a) to (c), the court at Wellington in the case of proceedings that consist of or include 1 or more of the following kinds of action or application:

(i)        an application for judicial review under Part 1 of the Judicature Amendment Act 1972 that arises out of, or relates to, the making of a designation under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002:

(ii)       an application for, or in the nature of, an extraordinary remedy under Part 30 of these rules that arises out of, or relates to, the making of a designation under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002:

(iii)      an application under section 35, 47E, or 55 of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002:

(e)        despite paragraphs (a) to (c), the court at Wellington or the court at Auckland in the case of applications under the Immigration Act 2009 in proceedings involving classified information.

(2)       Despite subclause (1)(a), if the place where the cause of action sued on, or some material part of it, arose is nearer to the place where the plaintiff or the plaintiff first-named in the statement of claim resides than to the place where the defendant resides, the proper registry of the court for the purposes of subclause (1) is, at the option of the plaintiff or the plaintiff first-named, as the case may be, the registry nearest to the residence of the plaintiff or the plaintiff first-named, as the case may be.

(3)       If a plaintiff proposes to exercise the option conferred by subclause (2), the plaintiff must file with the statement of claim and notice of proceeding an affidavit by the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s solicitor stating the place where the cause of action or the material part of it arose, and that that place is nearer to the place where the plaintiff or the plaintiff first-named in the statement of claim resides that to the place where the defendant resides.

[…]

High Court registries include:

A

Auckland

B

Blenheim

C

Christchurch

D

Dunedin

G

Gisborne

Greymouth

H

Hamilton

I

Invercargill

M

Masterton

N

Napier

Nelson

New Plymouth

P

Palmerston North

R

Rotorua

T

Tauranga

Timaru

W

Wellington

Whanganui

Whangarei

See the Ministry of Justice website for contact details of each High Court: https://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/utilities/contact/courts.

Filing the statement of claim and notice of proceeding

There are 2 ways to file a statement of claim and notice of proceeding:

1. In person

You can file the documents (and copies and filing fee) in person by dropping them off at the appropriate High Court registry.

Filing in person could be worthwhile if you are unsure about some part of your documents: You could take the opportunity to raise your queries with court staff and perhaps correct some error there and then. However, keep in mind that you can telephone the court staff and ask questions. That might save you a trip if you have made some serious error.

You might have to file your claim at the ‘civil counter’ of the High Court you visit. Ask court staff about which counter you should file at and where it is if you are unsure. There are usually signs around the courthouse, possibly a directory and there may even be a help desk available.

Filing in person could also be of some benefit to you if you have never been to court before. Litigation can be stressful and people sometimes fear the unknown, so the hearing might be a bit less stressful for you if had already familiarised yourself with the courthouse.

You might also take the opportunity to watch a High Court case from the public gallery to get a feel for how your hearing might play out. High Courtrooms are normally open to the public and you can come in part way through and leave early if you like.

2. Post

You can also post or courier the documents (and copies and filing fee) to the appropriate High Court registry. It would assist the court staff if you included a cover letter with any documents.

Cover letter template

Download a template cover letter to accompany your posted documents here:

1. Mailed cover letter

2. Couriered cover letter

Initial disclosure

Initial disclosure of documents is not something that is carried out at the time a claim is filed. It comes later, at the time the claim is served on the defendant or defendants in a court case. However, because claims must be served ‘as soon as practicable’ after they are filed, it is worth considering whether initial disclosure should be prepared before they are even filed. That way documents for initial disclosure are ready to go as soon as service copies of the statement of claim and notice of proceeding are issued by the High Court.

Initial disclosure is provided for by rule 8.4 of the High Court Rules:

(1)       After filing a pleading, a party must, unless subclause (2) applies, serve on the other parties, at the same time as the service of that pleading, a bundle consisting of –

(a)       all the documents referred to in that pleading; and

(b)       any additional principal documents in the filing party’s control that that party has used when preparing the pleading and on which that party intends to rely at the trial or hearing.

(2)       A party need not comply with subclause (1) if –

(a)       the circumstances make it impossible or impracticable to comply with subclause (1); and

(b)       a certificate to that effect, setting out the reasons why compliance is impossible or impracticable, and signed by counsel for that party, is filed and served at the same time as the pleading.

(3)       A party acting under subclause (2) must, unless the other parties agree that initial disclosure is not required, or that a longer period is acceptable, either serve the bundle referred to in subclause (1) within 10 working days from the service of the pleading or apply for a variation of that requirement within that period.

(4)       If a party fails to comply with subclause (1) or (3), a Judge may make any of the orders specified in rule 7.48.

(5)       Despite subclause (1), a party does not need to disclose any document in which the party claims privilege or that a party claims to be confidential.

(6)       Despite subclause (1), a party does not need to disclose any document that either –

(a)       is the subject of a claim of public interest immunity; or

(b)       is reasonably apprehended by the party to be the subject of such a claim.

(7)       Despite subclause (1), a party does not need to include in a bundle served by that party any document contained in a bundle already served by any party or any document attached to an affidavit already filed in court.

(8)       The bundle of documents may be served either electronically or as a bundle of copies in hard copy form.

(9)       If an amended pleading is filed prior to the making of a discovery order, this rule applies to that amended pleading if it either –

(a)       refers to documents not referred to in any earlier pleading filed by the party who files the amended pleading; or

(b)       pleads additional facts.

Initial disclosure template

You can download an initial disclosure template here, with cover page and index for a bundle of documents.

Claim commencement checklist

The things you should have at the point you are filing your High Court claim are:

1. Completed statement of claim to be filed in the High Court

2. Completed notice of proceeding to be filed in the High Court

3. Copies of the completed statement of claim and notice of proceeding to be filed in the High Court to be issued for you and each other party to the case

4. Copies of the completed statement of claim and notice of proceeding to be retained for your own records (perhaps in electronic form) just in case the documents filed in the High Court become lost

5. $1,350 filing fee

6. Cover letter to go with the documents and filing fee (optional)

7. A copy of any cover letter to keep for yourself (perhaps in electronic form)

8. Bundle of documents by way of initial disclosure to be served on the defendant or defendants (optional at the time of filing)

Acceptance, rejection or requisition by the Court

When the High Court receives a claim it will make a decision about whether to accept it, reject it or require something to be done before accepting it. It could be that there is a jurisdictional issue, an error in the notice of proceeding or the wrong filing fee for example.

If the High Court rejects your claim or requires something more then it should contact you to let you know.

If the Court accepts your claim then it will keep one copy of the statement of claim and notice of proceeding and issue the additional copies to you. Those issued additional copies should have the Court file reference noted in the top right hand corner of the first page. That reference begins with the letters ‘CIV’ followed by numbers in civil cases, and may be referred to as the ‘CIV number’ for that reason. Another thing the Court should do is date and sign the notice of proceeding at the part marked “Date: (Registrar/Deputy Registrar)”.