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Earlier news 2016–2018

Response to External Security Consultants Inquiry

18 December 2018

The PCO has responded to the State Services Commission's Inquiry into the Use of External Security Consultants.

View the response »

PCO moves to temporary accommodation

Update as at 13 December 2018: all staff have returned to the Reserve Bank Building.

16 August 2018

The PCO has moved temporarily out of the Reserve Bank Building while asbestos issues in the building are addressed. Staff are being accommodated elsewhere, with most in the parliamentary campus.

PCO functions are continuing as normal. While staff can be contacted by either email or phone, there have been intermittent issues with call forwarding, so please email if you have any difficulty getting in touch.

Consultation: Partnership Law Bill

4 May 2018

The Parliamentary Counsel Office and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are seeking feedback on this draft Bill before introduction. The Bill's purpose is to re-enact the Partnership Act 1908 to make it more accessible, readable, and easier to understand. It is not intended to make policy changes.

Legislation Guidelines (2018) published

17 April 2018

The Legislation Design and Advisory Committee has published the Legislation Guidelines (2018 edition), updating and replacing the LAC Guidelines (2014 edition). Cabinet has endorsed the Legislation Guidelines as setting key standards with which LEG papers must indicate compliance, and against which policy and legislative proposals generally should be tested.

The Guidelines are accompanied by a checklist for officials that sets out all the default principles contained in the Legislation Guidelines.

Revision Bill programme 2018–2020

5 April 2018

The revision programme for the 52nd Parliament was presented to the House on 4 April 2018.

Consulting on revision programme 2018–2020

12 December 2017

“The Government is now seeking feedback on its next three-year statute revision programme”, Chief Parliamentary Counsel Fiona Leonard announced today.

The Acts on the programme have been selected because they are old, expressed in outdated language, or heavily amended.  In some cases, rules on a single topic are scattered across several Acts, making them difficult to find.

“The Acts will be rewritten in plain, modern language and in our current drafting style and format. The result will be law that will be easier to find, use, and understand”, said Fiona Leonard. 

Before a revision Bill is introduced into Parliament, certification is required that the statutory revision powers have been exercised properly and that the Bill does not change the substance of the law.    

The first revision Bill, now the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017, was enacted in March.  It contains 12 revised Acts setting out general rules about contracts and commercial transactions.  The new Act has just won the 2017 WriteMark Best Plain English Legal Document award.

The revision programme is available on the Parliamentary Counsel Office website at

Submissions are due by 5 pm on Friday 26 January 2018 and can be emailed to, attention: the revision programme team.

PEA Winner 2017 logoPCO wins Best Plain English Legal Document at 2017 Plain English Awards

24 November 2017

I am delighted that the Parliamentary Counsel Office has won the 2017 WriteMark Plain English Award for the Best Plain English Legal Document, and made the finals for the Best Plain English Turnaround.

We are committed to making the legislation we write and publish as clear and simple as possible. This year we launched a new Plain Language Standard and Checklist to promote plain language in everything we write, from emails to legislation.

We have started to rewrite some of New Zealand’s older Acts by modernising and restructuring them without making any changes to the law. The new Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 marks the start of this work.

accepting the Best Plain English Legal Document Award
Parliamentary Counsel Scott Murray accepts the award for Best Plain English Legal Document on behalf of the PCO at the awards event on 23 November 2017

Important law about contracts and commercial transactions affecting many New Zealanders was previously scattered across 12 elderly Acts—some dating back to 1908. Our mission was to bring the rules together in one place, to make them easier to find, use, and understand, and to provide clarity and certainty for the people and businesses who apply them.

The task of rewriting these Acts was challenging. We were pleased when a legal commentator described the new Act as a “greatest hits” album—“a compilation of old tracks, digitally remastered for modern day application”.  The result has become one of the most used Acts on the New Zealand Legislation website.

Becoming a winner gives us confidence that we are on the right track with our plain language and revision work.

Fiona Leonard, Chief Parliamentary Counsel

Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 enacted

2 March 2017

The Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 was the first Bill under the 2015–2017 revision programme to be drafted and introduced to the House. It was enacted on 1 March 2017, and comes into force on 1 September 2017.

The Act re-enacts in one statute, in an up-to-date and accessible form, the following:

These Acts will be replaced when the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 comes into force. 

The Act does not make any substantive changes to the law. It will apply to contracts regardless of whether they are entered into before or after the Act comes into force.

Schedule 3 of the Act contains a comparative table of the old and the corresponding new provisions.

View the media statement from the Attorney-General »

More about the revision programme and the Contract and Commercial Law Bill »

New location for the online High Court Rules

Update: 20 October 2016

The High Court Rules 2016 are located at:

The online High Court Rules are moving

16 September 2016

The High Court Rules will move to a new location on the New Zealand Legislation website, becoming the High Court Rules 2016, when the Senior Courts Bill (divided from the Judicature Modernisation Bill) is enacted. This is expected to be in the near future.

This means that the High Court Rules 2016 will be published as a separate document in the Legislative Instrument series, which will improve access to the rules. However, existing links to the current rules will need updating.

It is important to note that the High Court Rules 2016 are not a new Legislative Instrument, but rather the current rules republished on the NZ Legislation website as a stand-alone document.


The High Court Rules are currently in Schedule 2 of the Judicature Act 1908. They are therefore required to be published as part of that Act.

Because the rules are part of an Act (and are published this way on the website), some users experience difficulties in finding the rules, and in navigating within them.


Two provisions in the Senior Courts Bill (clauses 144A and 151) will change how the High Court Rules are published, overcoming these problems (assuming the Bill passes its remaining stages with the relevant provisions unchanged).

These provisions:

  • continue the High Court Rules as in force on the date of the Royal assent and deem them to be part of what will become a new Senior Courts Act
  • require the Chief Parliamentary Counsel to publish the rules, as the High Court Rules 2016, as if they were a Legislative Instrument under the Legislation Act 2012.

The High Court Rules 2016 will therefore be treated as if they were a regular Legislative Instrument, making them easier to find and to navigate.


After the Senior Courts Bill has had its third reading and receives the Royal assent, the Parliamentary Counsel Office will have up to 15 working days in which to republish the High Court Rules. While this will be completed as soon as it possible, significant work is involved, and so the rules may not available in their new location immediately following Royal assent.

Implications for accessing the republished High Court Rules

See the NZ Legislation website for any updates about timing.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Appointment of Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Director Access to Legislation)
Jonathan Robinson

Jonathan Robinson

1 August 2016

Chief Parliamentary Counsel Fiona Leonard is pleased to announce the appointment of Jonathan Robinson as Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Director Access to Legislation), with effect from 29 August.

Jonathan Robinson is currently the Executive Director of Resources and Legal Services with the Environment Agency in England. He has significant experience in the development of policy and legislation, including drafting secondary legislation and instructing on Bills.  Jonathan was formerly the Chief Legal Adviser with New Zealand's Ministry of Social Development from 2006 to 2008.

Appointment of Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Director Drafting Legislation)
Cassie Nicholson 2016 06

Cassie Nicholson

17 June 2016

Chief Parliamentary Counsel Fiona Leonard is pleased to announce the appointment of Cassie Nicholson as Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Director Drafting Legislation).

Cassie is a senior Parliamentary Counsel, having been with the Parliamentary Counsel Office for 17 years. She began her career as a commercial lawyer in the private sector and joined the public sector after completing postgraduate study in law and regulation at the London School of Economics. She gained experience leading complex policy reform on secondment to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment from 2013 to 2015. She has been the acting Drafting Team Manager leading the Resources and Treaty team for the past 12 months.

Cassie heads the PCO's four drafting teams. She stepped into the role on 7 June.

Statutory Regulations as made 1936–2007 now online

4 May 2016

Now available online, a complete collection of all Statutory Regulations published in the Statutory Regulations series 1936–2007:

These regulations are as originally made—they don’t include any later amendments or show whether they have been revoked, or are expired or spent.

The new collection, provided by the PCO and hosted by the New Zealand Legal Information Institute (NZLII), makes available free online PDF versions of regulations that were previously only available in printed volumes or at a cost.

Historical legislation available through NZLII

Alongside the Statutory Regulations 1936–2007 As-Made Collection, the partnership between the PCO and NZLII provides free access to the New Zealand Acts 1841–2007 As-Enacted Collection, the 1908 Consolidation of Acts, and the growing collection of New Zealand Historical Bills.

To create the as-made collection, the PCO has scanned Statutory Regulations published in annual bound volumes beginning with 1936, which is when the Statutory Regulations series began, through to 2007—over 21,000 documents. An OCR (optical character recognition) process has been applied to the resulting PDFs to make text searching possible, although further checking has not been carried out so search results are not guaranteed.

Current legislation on New Zealand Legislation website

The Statutory Regulations 1936–2007 As-Made Collection supplements the Statutory Regulations and Legislative Instruments provided by the New Zealand Legislation website. For current legislation, legislation revoked since 2007, and versions of legislation from 2008 until now, always visit

On the New Zealand Legislation website, Statutory Regulations and Legislative Instruments include all amendments that have been made to them. When they are amended, earlier versions are retained—but early Statutory Regulations may not be available in the form in which they were originally made.

Note: Statutory Regulations can include Orders in Council, rules, notices, determinations, proclamations, or warrants. Since 5 August 2013, the term “Legislative Instrument” (defined in section 4 of the Legislation Act 2012) is used. To find Statutory Regulations on the New Zealand Legislation website, search under Legislative Instruments.

Appointment of Chief Parliamentary Counsel

Prime Minister John Key announced on 4 April the appointment of Fiona Leonard as Chief Parliamentary Counsel for a term of five years.

“Fiona is a highly qualified legal drafter and her experience in the Parliamentary Counsel Office will give the agency consistency and certainty of leadership,” Mr Key said.

Ms Leonard will commence her term on 7 May 2016. The current Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Mr David Noble, will remain in the role until 6 May 2016.

“I would like to thank Mr Noble for his service as Chief Parliamentary Counsel. He has made a significant and lasting contribution to New Zealand’s government and legal system,” Mr Key said.

More »

PCO Legislative Drafting Assistance to Pacific Nations Evaluation Report

24 March 2016

In 2015 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade engaged Allen & Clarke to evaluate the PCO's Pacific Islands Desk. The Evaluation Report (October 2015) and MFAT Management Response (March 2016) have now been published. The evaluation concluded that the activity is effective, efficient, and sustainable. MFAT should continue to fund the activity on a five-year cycle without making any substantive changes and see continued benefits to the Cook Islands and Niue in the longer term.

The Management Response noted that the PCO is "open to responding to requests for support from other Pacific Island Countries … on a case by case basis … subject to resources".

View the reports »

Historical Bills 1854–2008 now online

14 March 2016, updated 10 November 2016

The PCO has been working with its free access partner, the New Zealand Legal Information Institute (NZLII), to make historical legislative documents available online. The latest results of this collaboration, Bills from 1854 to 2008, are now on the NZLII website in PDF format:

The collection includes Bills that became Acts as well as those that did not.

The collection has been put together from scans of bound volumes provided by the PCO and the Office of the Clerk, and the documents hosted by NZLII. While most volumes were taken apart to enable scanning, some of the earliest (not yet available online) were too rare to treat in this way. Instead they were scanned by the Australasian Legal Information Institute (in Sydney) using a non-destructive scanner that produces high-quality images from books open to only 30°.

For current Bills, and Bills that were current from 2008 onwards, visit the New Zealand Legislation website.

Online HTML legislation is official

5 January 2016

“Official online legislation now includes legislation in HTML format”, Chief Parliamentary Counsel David Noble announced today. “This is the format that people see first when they search for Acts or Legislative Instruments on the New Zealand Legislation website at People can be confident that they are reading authoritative versions of legislation.”

Previously, only online PDF versions with the New Zealand Coat of Arms (or printouts of those PDFs) had official status, together with printed legislation. “Official legislation is taken by the courts to correctly set out the text, without further proof”, Mr Noble said.

Both HTML and PDF versions are derived from the same XML-based drafting and publishing system used by the PCO that underlies the NZ Legislation website. For more information about official versions of legislation please refer to

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