From the Chief Justice - Operation of Courts following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

The Chief Justice of New Zealand | Te Tumu Whakawā o Aotearoa has issued a statement Operation of Courts following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

"It was with sadness that I woke to the news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has died. On behalf of the judiciary, I have issued a statement of condolence recognising her life of extraordinary commitment to duty and unprecedented service as Sovereign.

The judiciary has a plan in place for this day, and I write to advise you of it now. We have made the decision that courthouses will remain open today. Courthouse flags will fly at half-mast.

Judges have been invited to mark the event in court in a manner of their own choosing – for example with a short statement of condolence, a karakia that has been prepared to mark this event, or two minutes silence.

Constitutional matters

As a matter of law and constitutional practice, the Crown is never vacant. The new monarch accedes to the throne immediately upon the death of his or her predecessor. (1)

With regard to this, there are a number of changes that flow from the Queen’s death:

  • Queen’s Counsel becomes King’s Counsel
  • Criminal cases become “The King v X”
  • Senior Court announcements change to refer to “the King’s Judge(s)”. (2)

All of this is effective today – however, changes in documentation and processes may take a little longer to implement."


(1) See: Halsbury's Laws of England, Crown and Crown Proceedings (Volume 29 (2019)) at [14] (Accession principles and practice); “The King is Dead: Long Live the Queen” (1952) 28 NZLJ 33
(2) See s 5, Constitution Act 1986; s 100(1) of the Senior Courts Act 2016; s 119B of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006

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