Plans by the Australian and New Zealand governments to introduce legislation this year to implement the Trans-Tasman Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement Treaty (signed on 30 July 2008) were the lead agenda item when the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General met on 17 April 2009 in Canberra.
The Treaty for the Trans-Tasman Working Group’s 2006 Final Report will allow court judgments imposed in one country to be enforced in the other provided that they do not conflict with that country’s public policy and will allow enforcement of civil pecuniary penalties except where specifically excluded.
Criminal fines imposed for certain regulatory offences will be enforceable in the same way as a civil judgment debt.
Wider use of teleconference and video link technology will also be permitted to enable remote appearances in trans-Tasman proceedings.
This development should be carefully monitored, particularly by those with an interest in Australia’s far-reaching powers against cartels, presently before the Federal Senate (the Trade Practices (Cartel Conduct and Other Measures) Bill 2008).