1.6.3 How is case law established and applied?

Courts decide the law that applies to a specific case by interpreting statutes and applying precedents. 

Our courts follow the doctrine of stare decisis, which means that a lower court is bound by a higher court where the facts/issues are materially the same.

Generally speaking, higher courts do not have direct oversight over the lower courts. They cannot act on their own initiative to overrule judgments of the lower courts. A party to the decision has to appeal it to a higher court. If a decision maker acts against precedent and the case is not appealed, the decision will stand and be binding on the parties to it.

Case law on licensing decisions in New Zealand is established by DLCs, ARLA and the courts. A decision of a DLC can be appealed to ARLA. Decisions of ARLA can be appealed to the High Court, and then, if leave is granted, to the Court of Appeal. ARLA issues practice notes and guides, which DLCs should be fully aware of and follow. 

DLCs are not bound by their own previous decisions; however, these should inform decisions on current applications. Nor are individual DLCs bound by the decision of another DLC. However, as a matter of best practice, you should stay informed about relevant decisions from DLCs around the country.  

Back to 1.6 Case law

The information contained in this online guide is intended as a general guide.
While reasonable measures have been taken to ensure that the information is current and accurate as at October 2019, the Health Promotion Agency cannot accept any liability for any inaccuracy, omission or deficiency in relation to the information. It is not legal advice and you should not rely on anything contained in this guide in any legal proceedings. The information provided does not replace or alter the laws of New Zealand, and you should consult the legislation and obtain your own legal and professional advice, as appropriate. The Health Promotion Agency will not accept liability for any action taken in reliance on anything contained in this online guide.