District Courts Act 1947

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Reprint as at 14 April 2014

District Courts Act 1947

Public Act1947 No 16
Date of assent24 October 1947
Commencementsee section 1(2)


Changes authorised by subpart 2 of Part 2 of the Legislation Act 2012 have been made in this official reprint.

Note 4 at the end of this reprint provides a list of the amendments incorporated.

This Act is administered by the Ministry of Justice.



1 Short Title and commencement

2 Interpretation

Part 1
Constitution and administration

District Courts

3 Courts constituted

4 Appointment of places for holding of courts

4A Sittings of court at other places

4B Disputes Tribunals

District Court Judges

5 Appointment and qualifications

5AA Judges act on full-time basis but may be authorised to act part-time

5A Chief District Court Judge

5B Appointment of jury trial Judges

6 Salaries and allowances

7 Tenure of office

8 Ex officio functions of Judges

9 Assignment and rostering of District Court Judges

10 Acting Judges

10A Retired Judges may act

11 Jurisdiction of Judge in Chatham Islands

Community Magistrates

11A Appointment of Community Magistrates

11B Right to hold other office and to engage in other employment

11C Functions and powers of Community Magistrates

11CA No proceeding against Community Magistrate unless he or she acted without jurisdiction

11CB No proceeding against Community Magistrate to be commenced in District Court

11CC Onus of proof

11CD Plaintiff may be ordered to give security for costs

11CE Indemnity to Community Magistrate

11D Chief Community Magistrate

11E Functions of Chief Community Magistrate

11F Tenure of office

11G Remuneration and allowances of Community Magistrates

11H Retired Community Magistrates


12 Appointment of Registrar

13 Record of proceedings to be kept by Registrar

14 Deputy Registrars


15 Appointment of bailiffs

16 Deputy bailiffs

17 Powers and duties of bailiffs

17A Sections 121, 128, and 129 of Search and Surveillance Act 2012 inapplicable to bailiffs

Miscellaneous provisions as to officers

18 Penalty for assaulting officers

19 Misconduct of officers

20 Officers of court not to act as solicitors therein


21 Place of sittings

22 Times of sittings

23 Adjourned sittings

Part 2
Criminal jurisdiction


Part 2A
Criminal jurisdiction in respect of indictable offences


Part 3
Civil jurisdiction and transfer of proceedings

Claims founded on contract or tort


29 General jurisdiction in respect of proceedings

30 Money recoverable by statute

31 Extending jurisdiction in actions for recovery of land

32 Landlord's right where rent is in arrear or premises deserted [Repealed]

33 Jurisdiction as to building societies

Equity proceedings

34 Equity jurisdiction

Miscellaneous provisions as to jurisdiction

35 Jurisdiction where title in question

36 Abandonment of part of claim to give court jurisdiction

37 Extension of jurisdiction in admiralty by agreement between the parties

38 Division of cause of action not allowed

39 Proceedings against absent defendant

Exercise of jurisdiction and ancillary jurisdiction

40 Persons who exercise jurisdiction of court

41 General ancillary jurisdiction

42 Ancillary powers of Judge

42A Jurisdiction exclusive of interest awarded

Transfer of proceeding

43 Transfer to High Court of proceeding within jurisdiction

44 Transfer of proceedings beyond jurisdiction

45 Transfer of proceedings where there is a counterclaim

45A Removal of summary judgment application from District Court to High Court

Removal of question of law into High Court

45B Removal of question of law into High Court

46 Transfer of proceeding from High Court to District Court

47 Procedure on transfer of proceeding from High Court to District Court

48 Costs in cases transferred or removed

Part 4


49 Trustees, executors, and administrators

50 Amount of wages, etc, for which minor may sue

51 Persons jointly liable

52 Bankruptcy of plaintiff

Witnesses and evidence

53 Witness entitled to expenses

54 Penalty for neglecting witness summons

55 Examination of witnesses and service of process abroad

56 Persons who may take affidavits, etc


56A Powers of court exercisable before commencement of proceeding

56B Power of court to order particular discovery against non-party after proceeding commenced


57 Right of audience

58 Trial by Judge

59 Equity and good conscience

60 Judge to take notes

61 Power of Judge to refer to arbitration

62 Power of Judge to refer to Registrar or referee

62A Reference by consent

Judgments and orders

62B Power of court to award interest on debts and damages

63 Finality of judgments and orders

64 Want of form

65 Payment of judgments and orders

65A Interest on judgment debts

Removal of judgments

66 Removal of judgment of District Court into High Court

67 Proceeding in High Court on judgment or order of District Court

68 Removal of judgment or order of High Court into District Court

69 Removal of judgment from one court to another [Repealed]

70 Removal of judgment of abolished court

Determination of questions concerning rules

70A Application of rules

Part 5

71 Interpretation

71A Right to appeal [Repealed]

72 General right of appeal

73 Agreements that decision would be binding

74 Security for appeal

75 Appeals to be by way of rehearing

76 Powers of High Court on appeal

77 Repayment of judgment sum and interest

78 Enforcement proceedings

78A Right of appeal in respect of contempt of court [Repealed]

Part 6
Enforcement of judgments

Enforcement generally

79 Nature of proceedings for enforcement of judgment

79A Judgment may be enforced in any District Court

80 Enforcement of judgments more than 6 years old

81 Enforcement of order for payment by instalments

82 Proceedings on cross-judgments

83 Power to stay proceedings for enforcement

84 Stay of proceedings on appeal

Information about judgment debtor's means

84A Filing of financial statement

84B Notice to complete financial statement

84C Court to request information about judgment debtor's means

84D Court may order hearing if information about judgment debtor's means not provided, etc

84E Application for financial assessment hearing

84EA Power to arrest judgment debtor or officer

84EB Financial assessment hearing

84EC Orders by court following filing of financial statement, etc

Attachment orders

84F Interpretation

84G Attachment orders

84H Content of attachment orders

84I Effect of attachment orders

84J Liability of employer

84K Wrongful treatment of employee

84L Extent to which attachment orders bind the Crown

84M Variation, suspension, and discharge of attachment orders

Review of Registrar's decision

84N Review of Registrar's decision


84O Contempt procedures

84OA Process for dealing with application for contempt procedures

84OB Warrant to arrest may be issued if judgment debtor cannot be served or fails to appear at hearing

84P Application of Part 1 of Legal Services Act 1991 [Repealed]

84Q Judgment debtor doing community work to be discharged on payment

Warrants to seize property

85 Warrant to seize property

85A Immobilisation of motor vehicles

86 Disposal of bills of exchange, etc, seized

87 Penalty for rescue of goods seized

Sale of goods seized

88 Period to elapse before sale

89 Sale of goods by public auction unless otherwise ordered

90 Protection of bailiff selling goods under execution without notice of claim by third party

91 Procedure when goods seized are secured under bill of sale

91A Personal property securities register to be checked

Claims in respect of goods seized

92 Priority of High Court and District Court executions

93 Sale of goods where claim made thereto

94 Third party claim process

95 Claims for rent where goods seized under execution [Repealed]

Garnishee proceedings

96 Garnishee proceedings

Charging orders

96A Charging orders


97 Issue and execution of orders or warrants of committal

98 Power of Judge to order discharge

Warrant for the recovery of land

99 Warrant for the recovery of land

100 Irregularity in execution of warrant can only be sued for as special damage

101 Person illegally obtaining warrant liable for trespass

102 Execution of warrant may be stayed on giving bond

Recovery of chattels

103 Warrant for the recovery of chattels

104 Further proceedings if chattels not recovered

Liability and protection of officers

105 Neglect by bailiffs

106 Irregularity in executing warrants

107 Actions against bailiffs acting under warrants

108 Action to be brought within 6 months, and 1 month's notice to be given


108A Service of documents under this Part

108B Service provisions modified in special cases

Part 7
Miscellaneous and general

Writs of arrest

109 Absconding debtors may be held to bail

110 Successful plaintiff entitled to execution, successful defendant entitled to compensation


111 Interpleader


112 Penalty for contempt of court

Financial provisions

113 Payment and recovery of fees

114 Enforcement of fines

115 Fines and fees to be paid to Crown Bank Account


116 Prescribed documents to be sealed

116A Proof of service of documents

117 Subtenant to give notice of proceeding to subtenant's immediate landlord

118 Actions on lost instruments

119 Immunity of Judges

120 No privilege to solicitors

121 Constables, etc, to assist

122 District Courts Rules

123 Regulations

123AA Chief executive of Ministry of Justice may approve forms

123A Reviews of decisions of Registrars concerning fees

124 Application of Act

125 Repeals and savings

Schedule 1
Criminal Record Book


Schedule 1A
Offences triable in either District Court or High Court and offences triable only in High Court


Schedule 2
Enactments (repealed by this Act) formerly regulating or providing for matters which can be regulated or provided for by rules

Schedule 3
Enactments repealed

District Courts Amendment Act (No 2) 2008

District Courts (Categorisation of Offences) Regulations 2008

District Courts Amendment Act 2011

Reprint notes

An Act to consolidate and amend certain enactments of the Parliament of New Zealand relating to District Courts and the jurisdiction of District Court Judges in civil proceedings, and to make provision for the exercise of criminal jurisdiction under the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 in District Courts

  • Title: amended, on 1 July 2013, by section 12 of the District Courts Amendment Act (No 2) 2011 (2011 No 88).

  • Title: amended, on 1 January 1987, pursuant to section 29(2) of the Constitution Act 1986 (1986 No 114).

  • Title: amended, on 1 April 1980, pursuant to section 18(1) of the District Courts Amendment Act 1979 (1979 No 125).