Justice Minister tables Law Commission Report of Property Act 1976

Justice Minister Andrew Little has today tabled the Law Commission’s final report on its review of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (PRA) sets out how relationship property should be divided when a relationship ends by separation or death.

The report makes 140 recommendations and concludes that, while many of the existing rules within the Act are satisfactory, the Act is no longer fit for purpose, and recommends a new Act be introduced covering relationships ending by separation. The Law Commission did not consider relationships ending on death, and recommended that these should be dealt with separately.

“The report’s overall conclusion is that the PRA is out-of-date and no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century,” Minister Little says. “I thank the Law Commission, and in particular Deputy President Helen McQueen, for their hard work over the past three years, and to those who took the time to provide considered submissions through the consultation process.

“I have tabled this report in accordance with my statutory responsibilities and the Coalition Government will now give further consideration to the report’s recommendations and the wider impact of its proposals.”

The process began in May 2016, when the Law Commission began a comprehensive review of the PRA. Just over a year later, the Commission released its issues paper, Dividing Relationship Property – Time for Change? Te mātatoha rawa tokorau – Kua eke te wā? which explored whether or not the PRA is achieving a just division of property when a relationship ends.

The Commission received over 300 submissions on the issues paper and hosted 16 public consultation meetings throughout the country. Drawing on these submissions, the Commission released a preferred approach paper late last year and sought feedback. One hundred submissions were received in response to the proposed law reforms, which were factored into the final report.

The full report is available on the Law Commission’s website: https://www.lawcom.govt.nz/our-projects/review-property-relationships-act-1976?id=1589

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