Chapter 5
Non-compliance with court orders


5.1It is fundamental to the administration of justice and the rule of law that court judgments and orders will be enforced against anyone who fails or refuses to comply with them. The absence of an effective and efficient enforcement regime would ultimately lead to anarchy, with unsuccessful parties simply disregarding a judgment or order against them.

5.2As Elias CJ and McGrath J put it in the first Siemer case:359

Effective administration of justice under our constitution requires that the orders of the courts are obeyed unless properly challenged or set aside. Public confidence in the administration of the law, also necessary for its effective administration, requires that there is a strong expectation that those who ignore court orders are quickly brought to account.

5.3This chapter concerns the contempt of failing or refusing to comply with a court order. In civil proceedings contempt applications remain an important enforcement mechanism available to litigants where court orders made in their favour are not complied with. In criminal proceedings there are already comprehensive statutory regimes in place for the enforcement of most court orders made during criminal proceedings, with contempt still playing a role as a mechanism for addressing breaches of some suppression orders.360

5.4In this chapter we consider whether a new statutory regime should be enacted to respond to non-compliance with court orders.

359Siemer v Solicitor-General [2010] NZSC 54, [2010] 3 NZLR 767 at [26].
360See below at [5.40]–[5.41].