Hearings Powers

  • Sections 41A to 41C give decision makers certain powers when conducting hearings. These powers can be exercised if the scale and significance of the hearing makes the exercise of the power appropriate. These powers include directing submitters to provide their evidence within time limits (at least 5 working days before a hearing). 

  • Section 41C provides the decision-making authority with powers to give directions and make requests before or at hearings. Directions can be given regarding the order of business and how evidence is presented. The authority can also direct the applicant or a submitter to present evidence within certain timeframes and submissions can be struck out. Further information can be provided via a commissioned report. 

  • In the case of a hearing held as part of a streamlined planning process, the usual restrictions that prevent cross examination in section 39(2)(c) and (d) do not apply. 

  • In the case of a freshwater hearing panel, special hearing powers are set out under Part 4 of Schedule 1, clauses 40 – 46, and these include holding pre-hearing meetings, the ability to direct a conference of experts, alternate dispute resolution, commissioning of reports, and appointing special advisors or friends of submitters. Cross examination may be permitted.  

  •  The COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act 2020 introduced interim changes to  the RMA to expressly provide for the use of remote access facilities in meetings and hearings. Section 39AA  provides that:  

  • an authority may direct that a hearing or part of a hearing may be conducted using remote access facilities; and  

  • such a direction may be made on the initiative of the authority itself or at the request of any person with a right to be heard at the hearing; and 

  • in making a direction, the authority must consider it appropriate and fair to do so and be satisfied that the necessary remote access facilities are available.  

  • Detailed guidance on virtual hearings under the RMA can be found here