Private International Law (Choice of Law in Tort) Bill introduced to Parliament
New Zealand companies doing business with foreign parties and foreign companies doing business in New Zealand will be interested in the Private International Law (Choice of Law in Tort) Bill
), introduced to the New Zealand House of Parliament on 22 September 2016. The Bill aims to clarify and simplify the New Zealand law conflict of law (aka private international law) rules that apply to actions brought in tort (e.g., negligence, tortious interference, trespass, defamation, breach of privacy).
The Bill proposes to codify as a general rule of New Zealand law that the law applicable to an alleged tort will be the law of the jurisdiction in which the events constituting the alleged tort took place. For circumstances where the events constituting the alleged tort may have occurred in different jurisdictions, the Bill proposes to set out specific rules based on the type of tort (damage to property, or other cases). In doing so the Bill proposes to abolish the so-called common law “double-actionability” rule, which allows a New Zealand court jurisdiction over torts that occur outside New Zealand but only where a claim would lie under both
New Zealand tort law if the act had been done in New Zealand and
the civil law of the country where the act was in fact done. By removing the obligation to plead and prove the contents of two different systems of law, and replacing it with a codified choice of law rule which deems a single legal system applicable, the Bill will simplify the pleading and proof of tort claims where the relevant events occurred outside New Zealand. One consequence, however, is that in cases where the alleged tort did occur outside New Zealand, then New Zealand tort law will play no influence at all. This is no bad thing per se
; but it will require New Zealand companies to do their homework and understand the tort law of the land in the place they are doing business. Alternatively, parties can avoid the operation of both the existing common law choice of law rules and the proposed Bill by incorporating carefully drafted governing law provisions into their commercial contracts.
The Bill will be referred to a select committee and submissions from the public will be sought at that stage. If you would like to discuss the potential impact of the Bill on your business, how to address these matters in your commercial dealings (e.g., drafting governing law clauses), or how submissions may be made to the select committee, contact Timothy Lindsay on firstname.lastname@example.org
A copy of the bill can be found here
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