Chapter 7 - The commercial list and specialisation in the High Court


Our provisional view

For the reasons already given, we do not think that the status quo should be maintained with respect to the commercial list. Nor, however, do we think that it should be abandoned in its entirety – as pointed out, there are still benefits to it. The remaining three options all have their merits, but cost implications would immediately seem to rule out a standalone commercial court.

This leaves a revamp and extension of the commercial list or a move to a panel system (of which a commercial panel would be one). For commercial matters there may, in effect, be no difference between the two. Rather, it is the scope to develop further panels in the panel system that sets them apart, and makes us inclined to prefer it. Indeed, this is what the Law Commission recommended in 2004,178 and we see no reason to depart from those recommendations. While specific divisions beyond commercial matters may not be wanted at this stage, if a panel framework were set up, it would be easier to include other specialities at a later date.


Should the commercial list be continued in its present form?


If not:

(a)Should it be abolished (in which case ordinary case management procedures would apply)?

(b)Should it be extended to other centres?

(c)Should it be extended to include substantive matters?

(d)Should it be replaced with a stand-alone Commercial Court for the High Court?

(e)Should it be replaced by a move to a panel system?


If a panel system were adopted:

(a)what panels should there be?

(b)should any such development be required by legislation, or done administratively?

Law Commission Delivering Justice for All (NZLC R85, 2004).