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Insurance Case Law Update

Written by Christina Bryant and Nick Gillies, with assistance from Michael O’Brien, Sarah Holderness and Taryn Doherty on December 13th, 2013.

As expected, the Canterbury earthquakes have resulted in a plethora of insurance litigation.  The Christchurch High Court has a dedicated earthquake list to deal with the volume of cases.
In this update, we provide a summary of key decisions issued over the past 12 months.  More detailed information on judgments having a wider impact on the insurance sector and the general law is linked to the case names highlighted in the summary table.
Topics: Insurance Law

Christmas Bonuses

Written by Jim Roberts on December 3rd, 2013.

Christmas bonuses, annual bonuses, or quarterly bonuses that are paid shortly before Christmas may all have an impact on holiday payments.
Topics: Employment Law

Gift Policies

Written by Jim Roberts on December 3rd, 2013.

While this time of year is a time for giving and clients and suppliers can be generous, gifts can cause their own set of problems. 
Topics: Employment Law

Christmas/Annual Closedown Periods

Written by Jim Roberts on December 3rd, 2013.

Employers are entitled to have a Christmas closedown – provided they customarily have had a closedown period.  Unfortunately, what constitutes “customarily” is somewhat unclear: an employer that has always closed down over Christmas will be fine, but what about, for example, a new (Greenfields) business wanting to close down at some point in its first year of operation?  Factually, such businesses can’t customarily have had a closedown period because they did not exist before.  Whether the Courts will allow a ‘start-up’ to have a closedown is unknown. 
Topics: Employment Law


Written by Jim Roberts on December 3rd, 2013.

In 2013-2014, both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Wednesday.  Boxing Day and 2 January 2014 both fall on a Thursday.  Accordingly, all are to be observed on the actual days they fall.
Topics: Employment Law

Work Christmas Functions

Written by Jim Roberts on December 3rd, 2013.

Employers have responsibility for their staff at any work-related Christmas function.  This can potentially include client functions. 
Topics: Employment Law

New Zealand Construction Report

Written by Nick Gillies on November 26th, 2013.

The Government has released its Construction Report, which takes an in-depth look at the state and direction of NZ’s construction industry.  Construction is one of the largest sectors in NZ’s economy.  The report signals an unprecedented boom and a strain on capacity over the next decade. 

Commercial Tenancies: Yield Up, Make Good & Reinstatement

Written by Ben Hickson on November 11th, 2013.

Obligations to make good and reinstate a premises at the end of a lease are not usually at the forefront of the mind of someone who is about to enter into a new lease or take an assignment of an existing lease.  This is particularly the case where a business is in its early phases - it is easy for the business owner to get caught up in the excitement of their new venture and often their optimism and eagerness to get into the premises and start trading can cloud their judgement when it comes to negotiating the finer terms of the lease

Pre-Employment Assessments - What You Need To Know

Written by Jim Roberts & Michael O'Brien on November 8th, 2013.

Can employers use 'on the job trials' as part of the recruitment process?  An Employment Court deision suggests the answer is 'yes' but there are still some pitfalls to watch out for.
Topics: Employment Law

Skeletons in the Closet – Misrepresenting Convictions

Written by Jim Roberts on November 8th, 2013.

A Fonterra driver has won his unjustified dismissal case after failing to disclose previous criminal convictions in his job application.  The application included a warning that a failure to disclose could be grounds for dismissal.  The Employment Relations Authority awarded the employee a total of $18,000.
Topics: Employment Law

Job Application Forms and Questions – Have you been sterilised?

Written by Alison Maelzer & Sarah Holderness on November 7th, 2013.

A job application form seems so simple, however they can be harder to make legally compliant than you might think. 
Topics: Employment Law

Can you deduct from an employee’s wage? It’s not as easy as you may think.

Written by Jodi Sharman on November 7th, 2013.

It is a fundamental rule that employers must pay the entire amount of an employee's wage without any deduction.  But what about PAYE, an overpayment made tot he employee or if the employee owes you money?  There are some exceptions to the rule and this article will help you navigate them and the Wages Protection Act 1983.

Topics: Employment Law

Garden leave intertwines with post-termination restraint of trade

Written by Taryn Doherty on November 7th, 2013.

It is the nature of business that employees often resign in order to take up jobs with competitors.  In some cases, these employees are privy to valuable business information which soon-to-be ex-employers are keen to protect.  While many employers may see an option in the employment agreement to place the employee on garden leave as the obvious choice in this situation, a recent Employment Court decision confirms that there is a caveat that should be considered by any employer making this decision „Ÿ namely, in placing an employee on garden leave, the employer may be trading off their ability to enforce a post-termination restraint of trade.
Topics: Employment Law


Written by Julika Wahlmann-Smith on August 11th, 2013.

Authors: Julika Wahlmann-Smith & Libby Ryan, Hesketh Henry
Not all claims in advertising are meant to be taken literally. However, when they are, they may be open to challenge as Tourism New Zealand has recently found out. Tourism New Zealand’s “100% Pure New Zealand” campaign has recently come under fire both internationally and locally, including a claim being brought before the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”).

Working Safer – Government’s Blueprint for Health and Safety Released

Written by Alison Maelzer on August 11th, 2013.

The Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, yesterday announced the introduction of a package of health and safety reforms, which aim to make a significant dent in New Zealand’s comparatively poor rates of workplace fatalities and injuries.
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