Representation of companies in Court

February 4, 2014

in Litigation & Dispute Resolution

iStock_000018766927SmallA recent High Court decision has sent a reminder to companies that they need legal representation in Court.  The case also further highlights the need for companies to file Court documents through a solicitor.

The case of Burgess v The Raindance Company New Zealand Limited concerned an application by liquidators against The Raindance Company New Zealand Limited (“Raindance”) to void transactions in the months prior to its liquidation.  Raindance was represented throughout the proceedings by a Company representative who was not a solicitor.  The representative filed the defence to the proceedings and at the first hearing sought leave to appear on the company’s behalf.

In this case the Court granted an adjournment of the proceedings to allow the representative to seek legal advice and representation, which he failed to do.  At the substantive hearing of the matter the Court held that “a corporation has no right to bring or carry on proceedings in a court except by a solicitor”.  The Court held this extended to the filing of all documents associated with the proceedings.

This principle is well established law in New Zealand and is based on the premise that a corporation is not a natural person and therefore cannot appear “in person” in Court.  The High Court will not be persuaded to stray from this principle on the grounds that the company cannot afford legal representation.

There are very limited statutory exceptions to this principle and the test to meet these exceptions is set very high.  It is therefore vital that a company seeks legal advice and support at the outset of any matter likely to go to Court in order to avoid your case being dismissed due to the lack of legal representation.

We are specialists in litigation of this nature and therefore can assist you with all aspects of your legal representation.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Kirsten Maclean

(03) 477 8870 or (09) 379 0055


The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain. 

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