IMPORTANT: Read the Supreme Court protocol on the Courts of NZ website(external link). More information can be found on our COVID-19 information hub.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in New Zealand and our final appeal court.
Appeals to the Supreme Court can only be heard with the leave of the court. Leave to appeal is given where the court is satisfied that it is necessary in the interests of justice.
The Supreme Court is located in Wellington. The Supreme Court has an office (court registry) which is where applications for the court are received.
The daily list contains information about court business in the Supreme Court. Details in the daily list include the date, court, courtroom and the case(s) to be heard on a particular day.
If you are intending to file proceedings in the Supreme Court, you may want to talk to a lawyer first or get a lawyer to represent you.
You can search for a lawyer on the New Zealand Law Society website by area of practice, such as criminal and civil litigation.
Alternatively, you may be able to get free legal help through Community Law.
You may need to pay a fee if you have proceedings in the Supreme Court. If you are filing an application in the Supreme Court that relates to a civil matter, it is almost certain that you will have to pay fees.
Fees for the Supreme Court are fixed (prescribed) by regulation:
If you have a question about fees please contact the Supreme Court registry:
You can apply to waive, postpone or refund fees. An application is considered by a registrar or deputy registrar of the court against criteria set out in the fee regulations.
Many court forms and documents must be set out in a certain way which is fixed (prescribed) in legislation. The content and details to be included in a form or document will be specific to the particular circumstances of a case, and may need specialist legal advice to draft it.
If a lawyer is representing you in a court case, your lawyer will be able to help with the forms and documents.
If you are going to court without a lawyer, you will be responsible for identifying the forms and documents you will use.
Decisions of the Supreme Court may be publicly available in PDF format through Supreme Court Decisions and Judgments of Public Interest on the Courts of New Zealand website.
Supreme Court Decisions contains all judicial decisions published by the Supreme Court since 2004.
The purpose of Judgments of Public Interest is to publish decisions from the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court that are deemed to be of significant legal and public interest. Judments of Public Interest are published for 90 days.
More information about the criteria for publication is available on the Courts of New Zealand website.
Some court decisions are not publicly available due to restrictions on publication, such as a statutory prohibition or judicial order restricting publication. These decisions can only be accessed by applying to the Supreme Court to search and access court documents.
The right to appeal New Zealand court decisions to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom was abolished in 2004 when the Supreme Court was set up.
However, the Privy Council may still hear and determine appeals in certain proceedings that existed before 1 January 2004. Information about this provision can be found in the Senior Courts Act 2016(external link)
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