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About

 

About Greenwood Roche

Two pivotal areas define the way we’ve shaped our firm to deliver more to our clients:
  • Clearly defined specialist areas, each with a significant depth of focused, legal expertise.
  • The acknowledgement of a trusted place at a client’s table, where we deliver the high levels of care, rigour and performance our clients expect of themselves.

We don’t stand apart. When briefed by a client we become an embedded part of the team. We engage our depth of knowledge and commercial acumen to swiftly identify what’s required from the outset – and set about delivering it. It’s not a revelatory approach, but it is refreshing, competitive and deeply efficient – and enjoyable.

It has earned us a market reputation as a leader in our areas of expertise where we have established:
  • A prominent position on the “All of Government” external legal services panel.

  • A substantial public and private sector client base.

  • Regular appointments to nationally significant projects.

They operate with a level of charisma in the room – certainly not order takers. They sense the gaps then find the solutions.”
National coverage

To ensure our specialists are always where they’re needed, we operate as one firm with hubs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. We advise on a range of public and private sector projects.


Specialist expertise

Recent projects
Purchase of Alinta Energy

Recent Projects

Purchase of Alinta Energy

Purchase of Alinta Energy

Brigid McArthur, Monique Thomas and Sam Green acted earlier this year, alongside an Allen & Overy team, on New Zealand aspects of the purchase by Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises of Australia’s largest electricity and gas utility, Alinta Energy.


The sale follows an about-face on Alinta’s delayed public float, which itself followed an earlier inconclusive sale process.  The deal remains subject to foreign investment approval in Australia.

In New Zealand, the Alinta assets include the Glenbrook Steel Mill cogeneration plant.

Chow Tai Fook is a privately-owned holding company with existing investments across 50 countries, straddling hotels, retail, property and jewellery businesses.

- Photo courtesy of Alinta Energy


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

Similar projects
Bid to Purchase Rimu, Kauri and Manutahi Oil and Gas Assets

Recent Projects


Bid to Purchase Rimu, Kauri and Manutahi Oil and Gas Assets

UK listed oil and gas explorer Mosman Oil & Gas was successful in striking a deal with Origin Energy to purchase the Taranaki Rimu, Kauri and Manutahi (RKM) petroleum fields and associated petroleum production infrastructure.


Alas, with oil prices falling below US$40 per barrel for a sustained period, Mosman and its joint venture partners were forced to cancel the sale and purchase agreement.  Reportedly, the assets may still be available for purchase.
Partner Brigid McArthur and solicitors Susan Baas and Kurt McRedmond worked with Mosman on its acquisition project, including on its due diligence, sale and purchase negotiations and applications for New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals and Overseas Investment Office consents.


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

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Establishment of CarboNZero Certified Ecotricity Limited Partnership

Recent Projects


Establishment of CarboNZero Certified Ecotricity Limited Partnership

Ecotricity is New Zealand’s only “carboNZero” certified, 100% renewable electricity retailer. This means that it sources electricity only from sustainable and renewable sources, such as hydro and wind.



Partner Brigid McArthur recently acted for Ecotricity Limited on the establishment of the joint venture, by way of limited partnership, with Pioneer Generation Limited.  Pioneer owns and operates some significant renewable generation projects in the South Island.  The Ecotricity Limited Partnership is also investing in electric vehicles and associated infrastructure.
Together, Ecotricity and Pioneer are championing the case for investment in renewables and we congratulate them on their venture.  They are at the forefront of what is a growing trend away from conventional fossil fuel based technologies.  Your support can be enhanced by visiting the Ecotricity website and checking the deals on offer.  www.ecotricity.co.nz


Key lawyers involved

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Greenwood Roche assists French construction giant

Recent Projects

Greenwood Roche assists French construction giant

Greenwood Roche assists French construction giant

Australasian utility contractor Electrix, part of McConnell Dowell, has been acquired by French construction giant VINCI Energies. Electrix has approximately 2,000 employees located in New Zealand and Australia and provides a range of maintenance and construction services for utility providers.


Greenwood Roche assisted VINCI in respect of New Zealand aspects of the transaction, working closely with VINCI Energies’ international legal teams from Baker McKenzie (Sydney) and Bolze Associés (Paris).  Greenwood Roche is proud to have worked with VINCI and its legal team on this project.

About VINCI:
 

  • VINCI Energies' is the world’s largest company in construction and related services and is listed on Euronext's Paris stock exchange and is a member of the CAC 40 index.
  • According to its website, in 2013 the VINCI Group had 171,678 employees and worked on 266,000 projects in 100 countries – with VINCI Energies having around 63,000 employees in 45 countries.
  • For more information on VINCI Energies, please visit www.vinci.com


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

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Bathurst Resources – Buller Coal Project

Recent Projects

Bathurst Resources – Buller Coal Project

Bathurst Resources – Buller Coal Project

New Zealanders are well aware of the severe challenges Bathurst Resources has overcome in progressing its West Coast coal mining project.


Greenwood Roche has been part of the Bathurst team on some important parts of the Buller Project, advising on land acquisition and land rights for the coal handling and preparation facility and the proposed aerial conveyor, and obtaining requisite Overseas Investment Office approvals.
 
We have also been acting jointly for Bathurst Resources and Westport Harbour on their joint arrangements for the siting, construction and operation of a coal handling facility at Westport Port.


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

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Northern Interceptor and North Harbour No. 2 Pipeline Projects

Recent Projects


Northern Interceptor and North Harbour No. 2 Pipeline Projects

Greenwood Roche is assisting Watercare with these two strategic pipeline projects designed to enable Watercare to keep up with the proposed growth in the northwest of Auckland.


These two projects are estimated to cost Watercare $800 million. The Northern Interceptor wastewater project will be constructed in various stages with construction to begin soon on stage one to service the growth areas in Massey North, Whenuapai, Hobsonville, Kumeu, Huapai and Riverhead. The North Harbour No.2 watermain will service the new Albany reservoir and will replace the existing watermain which cannot be maintained without disrupting local water supplies.

Hadleigh Yonge is leading Greenwood Roche’s team which is advising Watercare on all aspects of these projects, including providing strategic advice, negotiating and acquiring property rights, and advising and dealing with issues relating to compensation.


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

Similar projects
Watercare’s North Shore Trunk Sewer 8

Recent Projects


Watercare’s North Shore Trunk Sewer 8

Watercare Services Limited is responsible for providing water and wastewater services to the greater Auckland region and is undertaking a number of projects to increase its infrastructure network.


Greenwood Roche is advising Watercare on the construction of a significant new wastewater pipeline in the Northcote area. The project affects a number of properties including private and various forms of public land.  Our work has included the acquisition of property rights to enter and construct the works, and issues relating to compensation.


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

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Waipa Networks’ new transmission line

Recent Projects


Waipa Networks’ new transmission line

Waipa Networks has identified the need to construct a new 110kV transmission line to increase the security and reliability of electricity supply to Te Awamutu and the surrounding areas.


We are advising Waipa Networks on this project. Our work has included strategic advice, acquisition of land property rights, Maori land issues, and advice on compulsory acquisition rights and compensation entitlements.


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

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Aratiatia hydroelectric plant refurbishment

Recent Projects

Aratiatia hydroelectric plant refurbishment

Aratiatia hydroelectric plant refurbishment

Greenwood Roche has assisted Mighty River Power with the procurement and negotiation of contracts for its plant refurbishment project at Aratiatia


Austria-based Andritz was awarded the contract to provide work on three generating units at the 78-MW Aratiatia hydroelectric station.

The Greenwood Roche team for this project comprised partner Barry Walker and special counsel Adrian Doherty.  Barry and Adrian are experienced international construction project lawyers, comfortable using a variety of international standard documents, including FIDIC, to assist in smooth cross-border negotiations.


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

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Mitre 10 Support Centre

Recent Projects


Mitre 10 Support Centre

Greenwood Roche assisted Mitre 10 with its new head office project in Auckland


Greenwood Roche acted for Mitre 10 in respect of the procurement and engagement of the contractor and consultant team for its new head office and support centre in Albany.

The facility will comprise approximately 7,000 m² at 65-67 Corinthian Drive, Albany, Auckland. It is being developed by Mitre 10 itself and is due for completion in late 2016.

The Greenwood Roche team for the project included partner Barry Walker and special counsel Adrian Doherty.


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

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Bid to Purchase Rimu, Kauri and Manutahi Oil and Gas Assets

Recent Projects


Bid to Purchase Rimu, Kauri and Manutahi Oil and Gas Assets

UK listed oil and gas explorer Mosman Oil & Gas was successful in striking a deal with Origin Energy to purchase the Taranaki Rimu, Kauri and Manutahi (RKM) petroleum fields and associated petroleum production infrastructure.


Alas, with oil prices falling below US$40 per barrel for a sustained period, Mosman and its joint venture partners were forced to cancel the sale and purchase agreement.  Reportedly, the assets may still be available for purchase.
Partner Brigid McArthur and solicitors Susan Baas and Kurt McRedmond worked with Mosman on its acquisition project, including on its due diligence, sale and purchase negotiations and applications for New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals and Overseas Investment Office consents.


Specialist expertise

Key lawyers involved

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Establishment of CarboNZero Certified Ecotricity Limited Partnership

Recent Projects


Establishment of CarboNZero Certified Ecotricity Limited Partnership

Ecotricity is New Zealand’s only “carboNZero” certified, 100% renewable electricity retailer. This means that it sources electricity only from sustainable and renewable sources, such as hydro and wind.



Partner Brigid McArthur recently acted for Ecotricity Limited on the establishment of the joint venture, by way of limited partnership, with Pioneer Generation Limited.  Pioneer owns and operates some significant renewable generation projects in the South Island.  The Ecotricity Limited Partnership is also investing in electric vehicles and associated infrastructure.
Together, Ecotricity and Pioneer are championing the case for investment in renewables and we congratulate them on their venture.  They are at the forefront of what is a growing trend away from conventional fossil fuel based technologies.  Your support can be enhanced by visiting the Ecotricity website and checking the deals on offer.  www.ecotricity.co.nz


Key lawyers involved

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Recent news & insights
Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2)

News & Insights

Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2)

Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2)

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) was introduced on 23 May 2017 and public submissions to the Social Services Select Committee on the Bill closed on 22 August 2017.


Purpose of the Bill

The Bill proposes to address issues relating to:

  • the obligations of landlords and tenants for damage or desruction to rental premises;
  • methamphetamine manufacture and use in rsidential premises; and
  • the application of the Tenancy Tribunal's jurisdiction in relation to premises not lawfully able to be used for residential premises.
Limit on tenant liability resulting from careless damage
 
Amendments on the tenant liability front seek to swing the balance back in favour of landlords, following the recent Osaki Court of Appeal decision that tenants are immune from a claim for loss resulting from careless or negligent action by the tenant or a guest of the tenant, to the extent provided in sections 268 and 269 of the Property Law Act 2007.
 
Before Osaki, insurers had the ability to recover losses from the person who had caused the damage (including insurance excess payments).  Following Osaki, however, the tenant is not liable for any costs of careless damage where the landlord is insured, nor for damage caused by certain events (including fire, flood or explosion), whether or not the tenant carelessly caused the events and whether or not the landlord is insured for those events.  Nor are landlords are able to recover the cost of insurance excess from tenants.
 
The Bill caps the tenant’s liability in relation to “each incident of damage”, in the case of a careless act or omission, at the value of the landlord's insurance excess. If the landlord is not insured, the tenant’s liability is limited to the value of four weeks' rent. Quite how the limitation of “each incident” will be construed will likely provide some room for disagreement, potentially increasing disputes in front of the Tenancy Tribunal as to whether the damage is careless or intentional.
 
Under the Bill, the landlord is obliged to disclose its insurance cover at the beginning of the tenancy and will be liable for exemplary damages if it fails to do so.
 
Additionally, the Bill limits the ability of insurance companies to enforce the rights of their clients and prevents insurance companies from taking account of a tenant’s payment for careless damage to the landlord when calculating premiums. As a result, insurers say their risk is increasing and premiums for rental properties may increase.
 
The other point to note on liability is that even if a bond to the value of four weeks’ rent is held, the liability limitation now introduced may operate to mean that the landlord may not be entitled to all of the bond in the case of a careless act or omission by the tenant, if the landlord’s insurance is less than four weeks’ rent. The likely outcome is that landlords will increase insurance excess to the equivalent level.
 
Methamphetamine manufacture and use in residential premises
 
In a move that will be welcomed by landlords, the Bill allays concerns following a Ministry of Health funded report released in late 2016 that cast doubt on Ministry’s guidelines for the “unsafe” level of methamphetamine contamination in residential properties.
 
The Bill provides a right of entry for methamphetamine-testing without the tenant’s permission, an obligation to disclose the results to the tenant within 7 days of receiving them, and an effectively immediate right of termination for either party if the results reveal a particular level of methamphetamine contamination. Rent will cease to be payable if the tenant was not responsible for the contamination.
 
The long awaited New Zealand Standard (NZS 8510) released on 29 June 2017 assigns significance to contamination levels and documents appropriate remedial action.  Regulations will be developed to prescribe a “maximum acceptable level” of methamphetamine contamination for residential premises, provide how testing must be carried out, and prescribe the decontamination process.
 
While it’s a shame the Regulations are not available for comment at the same time, at least the Bill is heading in the right direction on this costly issue.
 
Premises unlawful for residential use
 
The 2013 High Court decision in Anderson v FM Custodians Ltd has meant that the jurisdiction of the Tenancy Tribunal was limited to making orders only in relation to “residential properties”.
 
In another measure bolstering the position of landlords, the Bill now clarifies the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to ensure it can hear cases that relate to premises “occupied or intended to be occupied for residential purposes”, regardless of whether the occupation is lawful. The Tribunal will have full jurisdiction to order the landlord to refund all rental paid by the tenant for the full period of occupation. The proposed change will have a significant implication for landlords of properties with secondary dwellings (for example, “granny flats”) that don’t comply with the Building Act and/or the Resource Management Act.


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Key changes introduced by the Land Transfer Act 2017

News & Insights

Key changes introduced by the Land Transfer Act 2017

Key changes introduced by the Land Transfer Act 2017

The Land Transfer Act 2017 (Act) has received Royal Assent and will be in force by 10 January 2019. It will repeal the Land Transfer Act 1952 (Old Act) and is intended to modernise, simplify and consolidate the Old Act and its amendments. Some provisions such as the amendments to the Property Law Act 2007 (PLA) regarding covenants in gross may come into force earlier than 2019.


In the main, the Act is not intended to substantively change our land transfer laws. However, some controversy exists regarding the right of an owner to reclaim title under the manifest injustice provisions arguably eroding the principle of indefeasibility. Also, not all changes promoted have been adopted, such as placing more onus on mortgagees to verify the identity of their clients, separately defining encumbrances and permitting senior legal executives to sign and certify instruments in Landonline.
 
Some key changes are set out below.

New terminology
The Act includes new terminology aimed at modernising the language used. For example, a “certificate of title” and the clumsy “computer freehold/leasehold/interest register” will be a “record of title”, and “registered proprietor” becomes “owner”. There is also a concept of “replacement lease”, which is a renewed lease or a new lease in substitution for a prior lease between the same parties and relating to the same land.
 
Withholding information for a person’s safety
The Registrar-General of Land will be able to refuse to provide a copy of an instrument or title that identifies a person, as well as refuse to include those details on the public register in the first place, if it is satisfied that the information discloses or is likely to disclose the person’s location and prejudice their safety.
 
Caveats
An express right for an owner of an estate or interest to lodge a caveat against their own title where there is a real risk of fraud.
 
Guaranteed title searches
Guaranteed searches back up the security of the land transfer system, by providing a right to compensation if a purchaser of an interest in a land transaction suffers loss due to the registration of a competing interest. Under the Old Act, the purchaser must obtain a “guaranteed search” within 14 days before settling the transaction, and must lodge the transaction documents within 2 months after settlement.
 
The Act updates these periods to reflect the electronic nature of land transactions by:
 

  • requiring that a guaranteed search of the title be obtained within 5 working days before settlement; and
  • reducing the period after settlement during which loss may occur to 20 working days.
 
As with the Old Act, no compensation will be payable if the title search disclosed the competing interest.
 
Compensation
Compensation is payable by the Crown when loss occurs in certain circumstances (including, but not exclusively, under “guaranteed search” situation). Under the Old Act, the calculation for compensation is based on the land value at the time the loss occurred. The Act will shift the date on which compensation is to be assessed to when the claimant “gained (or ought reasonably to have gained) knowledge of the loss”.
 
The Act confirms that the value of the lost estate or interest in land is the “market value”.
 
The High Court may adjust compensation where the amount determined by the prescribed calculation is inadequate or excessive, and may determine at which date the market value should be assessed which may include a revised assessment as at the day of the court judgment.
 
Cancellation of land transactions in cases of “manifest injustice”
The High Court will have limited discretion to order the alteration of titles to avoid “manifest injustice”, but only where compensation or other damages would not properly address the injustice. The High Court may cancel registration of a land transaction after taking into account how the land was acquired, the length of time the parties have owned or occupied the land, the nature of any improvements made, the special characteristics of the land and its significance, and any other relevant circumstances. The Court cannot make an order if the estate or interest has subsequently been transferred to a third person acting in good faith.
 
Fraud
Fraud is one of the main exceptions to an owner’s title to land.  “Fraud” is now defined as forgery or other dishonest conduct of an owner or agent of an owner in acquiring an estate or interest in land. It is worth noting that, for the purposes of a Court order cancelling a land transaction in the case of “manifest injustice”, the existence of forgery or other dishonest conduct will not itself constitute the required level of injustice.
 
Introduction of covenants in gross and what it means for encumbrances
Currently it is not possible to register, on a certificate of title, an instrument that imposes obligations or restrictions on a landowner “in gross” – i.e. in favour of another person, rather than benefitting another parcel of land. To reduce the widespread use of encumbrances, which are a form of mortgage, as a mechanism for securing what are regarded more as private contract arrangements the PLA will be amended to allow covenants in gross to be noted on the record of title. This has been long awaited and should provide a registration option which is more palatable especially to banks. It will also allow affected owners to seek modification or cancellation of existing encumbrances and replace them with covenants in gross.
 
While encumbrances are commonly used as a mechanism to register covenants, they are also properly used to register rent-charges on land, and encumbrances will still be referred to in the provisions governing mortgages. So, the change still allows encumbrances to remain a viable instrument of title but, where the real purpose is to require a landowner to do or not do something for the benefit of someone else, a covenant in gross will be the appropriate instrument.
 
Registrar’s power to correct titles
The Act clarifies the circumstances in which the Registrar will be able to correct titles. The Registrar’s power will be limited to circumstances such as correcting an error by the Registrar, an error made by a person preparing a document or information for registration, recording a boundary change due to accretion or erosion, or giving effect to a court order.
 
Overriding statutes
The Act repeals the Statutory Land Charges Registration Act 1928, with the Act dealing with the registration, priorities and release of relevant charges.
 
Regulations
The Land Transfer Regulations 2002 will be revoked but will be replaced with new regulations still to be issued.


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Our New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Partnership

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Our New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Partnership

Our New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Partnership

We are delighted to announce that as of June 2017 we have become a Concerto Partner of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.  Now in its seventieth year, the NZSO is a truly world class national orchestra, consistently blowing away audiences’ expectations with its marvellous performances.  In looking for a partner in the arts, we wanted an organisation that would resonate as very special, national, and with an ability to inspire both young and old.  The NZSO is a perfect fit and we look forward to a long relationship.


Please visit the NZSO website to check out the 2017 Season, and help us to support the Orchestra.  And if you are keen to attend a particular concert with us, do let us know as we would be keen to host you!
 
We are also pleased to announce that Greenwood Roche specially sponsors Sam Jacobs, Section Principal Horn.  Sam is an extraordinary French horn player, and has just recently returned from the UK where he was Principal horn with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and is seen as one of the rising future leaders of the Orchestra.

We have recently helped the NZSO move to temporary new Wellington CBD premises, and will be assisting it later in the year with the new Wellington Music Hub, in conjunction with Wellington City Council and Victoria University.


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Supreme Court Confirms Department of Conservation’s Decision on Ruataniwha Dam Land Exchange Unlawful

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Supreme Court Confirms Department of Conservation’s Decision on Ruataniwha Dam Land Exchange Unlawful

Supreme Court Confirms Department of Conservation’s Decision on Ruataniwha Dam Land Exchange Unlawful

The Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme will flood 22 hectares of land in the Ruahine Forest Park in the Hawke’s Bay.  The Forest Park is held by the Minister of Conservation under the Conservation Act 1987 as conservation park, a category of specially protected land.  The Director-General of Conservation decided to effectively downgrade the conservation status of the land to be flooded, to enable it to be exchanged for other land to be provided by the proponent of the dam, Hawkes Bay Regional Investment Company Limited. 


The Director-General’s decision, challenged by Forest and Bird, was based on the relative conservation values of the 22 hectares of forest park compared with the conservation values of the land for which it was to be exchanged.  The evidence was that the forest park land has high conservation values which warrant continued protection, and there was no suggestion in the Director-General’s decision that the forest park land did not still warrant protected status.  The Director-General’s decision was made on the basis that overall, there would be a net conservation gain from the exchange.

The majority of the Court of Appeal held that the conservation park status of the land could only be revoked if its intrinsic values had been detrimentally affected such that it did not justify continued preservation, for example if the purposes for which the land is was held were undermined by natural or external forces.  The majority of the Supreme Court agreed, although it did not consider that only complete destruction of the values justifying protection and preservation could warrant revocation.  Rather, the status could only be revoked if the intrinsic values of the land did not justify continued preservation and protection so that the status of conservation park was inappropriate.  In majority decisions, both Courts held that that any gain arising from an exchange should not have been considered when deciding whether to revoke the special conservation status of the land.

The decision has been celebrated by environmental groups but the Government has signalled that it may change the law to enable such exchanges to occur in future.  In her press release of 6 July 2017, Conservation Minister Hon Maggie Barry noted that, for the last 30 years, the Government believed that the legislation allowed low value conservation land to be swapped for higher value land, and that law changes to promote best conservation outcomes would now need to be investigated.  The Government’s view is that the Supreme Court majority decision that the revocation of conservation status and the exchange of land steps could not be conflated created a clear problem, particularly on the back of the differences between the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, work to secure Department of Conservation land for the proposed Waimea dam in the Tasman District is reported to be on hold pending advice on the implications of the Supreme Court decision for that project.  Tasman District Council is reported to be considering acquiring the conservation land it requires under the Public Works Act 1981 instead.  Forest and Bird does not appear to have a formal position on use of the PWA as yet but have suggested that there are issues with the use of the PWA process.  Given that local authorities have no power to “take” Crown land under the PWA, we expect that any attempt to use the PWA to acquire conservation land in the absence of agreement with the Ministers of Conservation and Land Information would likely fail.  Those same issues would apply to any attempt by the Hawkes Bay Regional Council to take land for the Ruataniwha scheme.  The Hawkes Bay Regional Council is reported to be divided on any potential use of attempting the PWA process.

Proponents of the Waimea dam may be best to wait for whatever solution Parliament chooses to offer – but that wait will likely need to extend beyond the election.


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ILANZ Greenwood Roche Private Sector In-House Lawyer of the Year Award 2017

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ILANZ Greenwood Roche Private Sector In-House Lawyer of the Year Award 2017

ILANZ Greenwood Roche Private Sector In-House Lawyer of the Year Award 2017

Greenwood Roche extends its warmest congratulations to Helen Davidson, General Counsel and Complaints Manager for the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand.  The award recognises Helen’s outstanding contribution to both to IPENZ and the legal profession. 


The award was one of two presented to Helen during the evening, who has had a significant role in transforming IPENZ’s complaints and disciplinary process over the course of the year, in addition to providing excellent support to the Institution through her role as General Counsel.
 
Greenwood Roche is proud to continue its support of ILANZ and to continue working alongside many of its members, providing pragmatic solutions in the delivery of various projects and initiatives that its members undertake.  In his speech at the awards, Greenwood Roche Partner Doran Wyatt highlighted the increasing recognition of the value of in-house lawyers not just in terms of their legal input, but also in management and strategic oversight of their respective organisations.  Greenwood Roche again wishes to congratulates all nominees and award winners on their various achievements throughout the year. 


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King Salmon Reigns

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King Salmon Reigns

The High Court decision of Davidson Family Trust v Marlborough District Council [2017] NZHC 52, clarifies how the King Salmon (Environmental Defense Society Inc v The New Zealand King Salmon Co Ltd [2014] NZSC 38) decision should be applied in relation to resource consent applications.


In summary, the Supreme Court in King Salmon found that unless there is invalidity, incomplete coverage or uncertainty of meaning in the statutory planning documents, there is no need to look at Part 2 of the RMA when making decisions on plan changes. The Court reasoned that Councils are required to give effect to Part 2 in preparing planning documents, therefore a further assessment of Part 2 would be unnecessary duplication.

When the King Salmon case came out it was considered a ‘game changer’ as it related to plan changes, however it did not clarify whether the ruling applied to decisions on resource consents. Since King Salmon, the Environment Court has taken a tentative approach on how King Salmon should be interpreted in respect of resource consent applications (see: RJ Davidson Family Trust v Marlborough DC [2016] NZEnvC 81 and KPF Investments v Marlborough DC [2014] NZEnvc 152). The Davidson High Court judgement clarifies how decision makers should apply Part 2 of the RMA when assessing a resource consent application. Davidson confirms that the ruling in King Salmon applies to resource consent applications, as it would be “inconsistent with the scheme of the RMA and King Salmon to allow Regional or District Plans to be rendered ineffective by general recourse to Part 2 in deciding resource consent applications” (Davidson Family Trust v Marlborough District Council [2017] NZHC 52 at [63]).

In practical terms, this means that in completing a resource consent application the main focus should be on the planning documents, such as National and Regional Policy Statements and Regional and District Plans, rather than focusing on the matters outlined in Part 2 of the RMA. Part 2 of the RMA should be referred to only in circumstances where plans are outdated or there are inconsistent objectives and policies. Many resource management practitioners have adopted this approach since King Salmon. The Davidson case confirms that this is the correct approach.

The High Court delivered their judgement on the 31st January 2017, so it is possible that this decision will be appealed to the Court of Appeal.


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