Time limits on earthquake claims looming

Written by Susan Bevin - Partner (Litigation)

2016 saw the six-year anniversary of the 4 September earthquake and many insurers granted further time to property owners to bring claims. A number of those deadlines are looming again over the coming months, and this may impact on property owners and their ability to pursue their insurance claims.

Property owners could be too late to bring court proceedings if they have not sued their insurers before the limitation deadlines expire.

In general terms, the Limitation Act provides that court proceedings must be brought within six years to avoid a limitation defence being raised. There have been differing views as to when the six-year period starts in terms of earthquake insurance claims, but many have adopted the conservative approach which would see the 4 September 2010 earthquake as the start date.

The looming deadline saw insurers agree to provide extensions of time for proceedings to be filed, but those extensions expire over the coming months.

Read more here.

Family law advice now available 24/7

At Cavell Leitch, our firm purpose is to “Help people succeed brilliantly.”

Helping our clients succeed brilliantly involves helping them get quick answers to their most pressing questions.

And, perhaps the most emotional and upsetting area of the law for our clients is in relation to family law matters – separations and child custody disputes.

When these matters arise they are terribly distressing. If we could find a way to help our clients in this area seven days a week, when they need it, we have always thought that it would be amazing!

Well, we have now!

We are really excited to announce that our website now includes a free, easy to use, confidential online solution that leads clients quickly through their situation and provides the guidance they need.  They no longer need to wait till Monday to ring us or send us an email and wait for a reply.

This is not just an information website.  Visitors are led through a series of questions that drill down into their circumstances and provide tailor-made advice for them.  At the end, they can receive a written summary and advice as to what they should do next.  None of this costs a cent, it can be done 24 hours a day and nothing is provided to us until permission is given.

We’d love you to give it a try and let us know what you think. Visit our Relationships Team webpage and click on the link.

Are you thinking of buying a house in New Zealand?

Written by Nicola Tiffen - Partner (Immigration) and

Tim Stevens - Senior Associate (Property)

What do the proposed changes in the Overseas Investment Act mean for you?

What is the Overseas Investment Act (OIA)?
The OIA currently requires overseas persons to obtain permission from the Overseas Investment Officer (OIO) before they can purchase sensitive New Zealand (NZ) land.
At the moment, sensitive land is more than 5 hectares of non-urban land or is conservation land (including lake or sea foreshore) or land that adjoins such land.

What are the proposed changes?
The Labour government has introduced a Bill, called the Overseas Investment Amendments Bill (Bill).
The aim is to change the OIA so that overseas persons who are not resident in NZ cannot buy existing houses or residential land, without first obtaining permission from the OIO.
To achieve this aim, the Bill extends the definition of sensitive land to include land that is rated for residential or lifestyle purposes under the relevant district valuation roll.
The Bill also extends the definition of overseas persons, when it comes to the purchase of residential property.

Read more here.

Christchurch employer banned from employing staff for three years

Written by Ashley-Jayne Lodge - Partner (Employment)

The Employment Court has issued the first banning order pursuant to the Employment Relations Act 2000, two years after the sanction was introduced into legislation in 2016.

Gordon Freeman, the former owner of the Watershed bar and restaurant and Sequoia 88 restaurant in Christchurch, has been banned from employing staff for three years and ordered to pay a penalty of $10,000, as a result of multiple breaches of employment law.

Read more here.

Directors Duties - comply or perish!

Written by Stacey Williams - Associate (Business)

Given the current economic uncertainties, it is timely to consider the duties of company directors. The penalties for breaches can be harsh, and it is important to be aware of your responsibilities to the company, its shareholders, and third parties.

We address some commonly asked questions below.

Am I a director?
A company must have at least one formally appointed director. The Act contains a broad definition of a director, which includes people who are acting in a directors’ role, even if not formally appointed.

In the shadows
Director’s duties can apply to persons who are not formally appointed as directors. If you direct the company’s business, act in the position of director, or if the board is required or accustomed to following your direction you could to be considered a director for the purposes of the Companies Act 1993.

Read more here.

Early access – beware the risks

Written by James Leggat - Solicitor (Property)

When buying or selling houses, everyone wants to ideally get along during an often stressful ordeal. Vendors commonly agree to let a purchaser into a property before settlement to store items or complete repairs. But as well-intentioned as these arrangements are, there are some real risks you should protect yourself from.

The ADLS Agreement for sale and purchase of real estate is the standard agreement for property transactions in New Zealand. This agreement states that the risk of the property stays with the seller until after settlement. This means that if items stored on your property are stolen or cause damage, you could be liable for any costs incurred. Your lawyer can negotiate to have the agreement amended to provide that any items stored will be at the purchaser’s risk, with perhaps an added warranty not to move any dangerous material onsite (e.g. flammable substances).

Read more here.

Speak up or lose out – when to notify your insurer

Written by Sam Cowan - Senior Solicitor (Litigation).

Obtaining an insurance policy and paying the premiums is only the first step to ensuring that your business has insurance cover when it needs it. An often overlooked or at least underestimated aspect is that the typical liability insurance policy has specific requirements about notifying your insurer of a potential claim. If you fail to strictly adhere to these requirements, your insurer could decline you cover.

The requirement to give proper notice to the insurer of possible claims arises from the importance insurers place on their involvement in the resolution or defence of any claim made against the insured. In most liability policies, the insurer has the right to control or manage the defence of any claim, including the right to select or participate in the selection of defence counsel. A delay in giving notice of a claim or potential claim can cause prejudice to the insurer. For example, an insurer may be able to negotiate a cheaper settlement early in the process or raise a viable defence to the claim.

Read more here.

Amanda Fitzgibbon joins the Cavell Leitch team

The relationships team is happy to welcome a new member to add to our expertise.

Those clients who have had recent contact with the team may already know that Esther Jones has gone on maternity leave. We are all excitedly waiting to meet her new baby.

In the meantime, we are very lucky to have Amanda Fitzgibbon join us as an associate. Amanda has come to us from another Christchurch law firm. She has extensive experience in family law. That expertise is recognised by the Court as she is on the panel of Lawyers for the Children. She is appointed by the Ministry of Justice to represent children where their parents cannot agree about issues surrounding their care and welfare. As such she is ideally placed to take over the work which Esther has been completing in the child care area. However, her expertise is not limited solely to child care matters. She is also fully conversant with and able to advise on relationship property matters, domestic violence and matters of care and protection of vulnerable people rights.

While we will miss Esther and look forward to her return we are also very excited about the new dimension that Amanda brings to the team. Amanda is currently working three days a week but from 7 May will be working five days a week.

The Cavell Leitch International Jazz & Blues Festival

Celebrating its 23rd year, the 2018 Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival will host more than 30 shows featuring some of the best musicians and artists from New Zealand and around the world.

Throughout the history of the festival, we have presented Christchurch audiences with programmes that are both appealing and dynamic, and this year is no exception. Headlining is American jazz wonder Kurt Elling and his Quintet, at The Piano for one night only.

Australian treasure James Morrison is accompanied by the New Zealand Army Band; Fantine returns to play with both Oval Office and the Symposium Jazz Orchestra; Nathan Haines and Jonathan Crayford present Adagio and our very own master chef Richard Till is joined by The Eastern for two great nights of food and music at the Lyttelton Arts Factory. New Zealand blues legend Darren Watson is here with his latest LP release and Mary Coughlan returns with her Billie Holiday show.

We've got music for lunch, on the trams, in the City, at the Harbour and in a High School. Jazz, blues, soul, funk, improvised or rehearsed - we've got a little something for everyone...enjoy!

For more details and to book tickets click here.


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If there is a topic you would like to have more information on or an article that you think needs to be covered by one of our experts, please email rebecca.smith@cavell.co.nz.