High Court Rules 2016 – right of audience – company directors – Re GJ Mannix  1 NZLR 309 – representation of companies in court restricted to barrister or solicitor – residual discretion to allow unqualified advocates to appear – departure from rule only in exceptional circumstances – relevant considerations for exercise of residual discretion
Jayashree Ltd v The Commissioner of Inland Revenue  NZHC 2723.
Madhav Karmarkar is the sole director and shareholder of Jayashree Ltd. He filed an appeal for Jayashree against a decision of the District Court to strike out their statement of claim on an application of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue. The basis for the strike-out application was that the claim disclosed no reasonably arguable cause of action (by either Karmarkar or Jayashree) against the commissioner.
Karmarkar belatedly filed an application for Jayashree, seeking leave for him (rather than a lawyer) to represent Jayashree at the hearing of the High Court appeal. He was permitted to appear and make submissions on this application.
Jayashree’s application was opposed by the commissioner, who relied on the well-settled rule in Re GJ Mannix  1 NZLR 309: a company has no right to be represented in the conduct of a case in court except by a barrister or by a solicitor in courts or proceedings where solicitors have the right of audience. The commissioner said the rule extended to filing documents, including the proposed appeal that Karmarkar filed on behalf of Jayashree.
Karmarkar was aware of the Mannix rule before filing the appeal for Jayashree. He had been told many times in previous cases by the High Court and the Court of Appeal that a company requires legal representation in court.
Applicable principles: the Mannix rule – company has no right to be represented in conduct of case in court except by barrister or solicitor – departure from rule only in exceptional circumstances – relevant considerations for exercise of court’s residual discretion to allow unqualified advocates to appear – need for dispassionate consideration of circumstances and professional objectivity – should the Court allow the appeal to remain on foot to give Jayashree the opportunity to instruct a solicitor to represent it?
Held: The application for leave for Karmarkar to act for Jayashree at the hearing of the appeal is declined. Further, Karmarkar is not permitted to file documents on behalf of Jayashree for the proposed appeal.
As the notice of appeal had been filed by Karmarkar, it was non-compliant and the appeal was struck out on procedural grounds. That did not prevent a solicitor instructed by Jayashree from applying for leave to file a fresh appeal out of time.