Updated Environment Court Practice Note 2011

Click here to see the amended Practice Note that will be in effect from 1 November 2011.  Thanks to Russell McVeagh for hi-lighting the key changes set out below.

Updated Environment Court Practice Note

1.    Acting Principal Environment Judge Newhook has released an updated Environment Court Practice Note which will come into effect on 1 November 2011 and replace all earlier Practice Notes. 

2.                   While many of the changes made to the Practice Note simply tidy up and refine the wording (for example to take into account the Direct Referral procedures introduced by the 2009 amendments to the RMA), the following substantive changes are of note:


  • It is now explicit in paragraph 2.11 that any request to the Registrar for an adjournment should simultaneously be advised to all other parties to the proceeding.


  • Paragraph 2.16 now makes it clear that exhibits must be ‘of a scale sufficient to be clearly legible’ and ‘aerial photos with, where relevant, contour lines endorsed are a useful exhibit’.  It also directs that parties should confer and, wherever possible, produce one set of agreed documents, photographs or other similar exhibits.


  • Paragraph has been amended to make it clear that where appropriate, mediators may set a timeline to ensure that further steps after the mediation, such as the provision of further information, are completed in a timely and sequential way.
  • Paragraph now includes a statement that a refusal to engage in mediation, or withdrawal from it, may influence the possible award of costs if the dispute goes to a hearing before the Court. 


  • Paragraph 4.5.5 now makes it clear that:

(i)                   an application for costs should include invoices or other proof of costs incurred; and

(ii)                 costs incurred in the hearing before a Council, or in court-assisted mediation, are not awarded by the Court and should not be claimed.

Expert’s Duty to the Court

  • Paragraph 5.2.2 has been amended to clarify that:

(i)                   experts ‘must not behave as’ an advocate for any party; and

(ii)                 ‘expert witnesses must declare any relationship with the parties calling them or any interest they may have in the proceeding’.

Expert Witness Conferencing

  • Paragraph 5.4.1 has been amended to make it clear that, while the general rule is that only experts may participate in expert conferencing, other parties may participate if agreed by all parties or if directed by the Court.
  • Paragraph 5.6.1 has been amended to clarify that joint witness statements should be lodged with the Court and circulated to all parties who have given an address for service.
  • Under paragraph 5.6.2, joint witness statements should include a list of all published standards or papers relied upon by the experts in coming to their opinions.