Grace v Orion New Zealand Ltd


This case law summary was developed as part of the Disaster Law Database (DISLAW) project, and is not an official record of the case.

Geographical Area
Asia Pacific
New Zealand
Case Name
Grace v Orion New Zealand Ltd
Case Reference
[2021] NZHC 705
Name of Court
High Court of New Zealand
Key Facts
In February 2017, two major fires devastated properties in the Port Hills area over three days.
Decision and Reasoning
The Court found that the Park breached the Act by causing the ignition of a fire ahead of its initial ignition source, an act which they considered to be a new outbreak/spread. The Park could not avoid responsibility under the Act by claiming an extraordinary event as there had been “ample opportunity” to take steps to avoid the chairlift fire, they had failed to comply with their own Fire Safety Management Plan by not removing the pine slash, and the ignition of a fire due to molten plastic dropping onto slash and coconut matting was the logical/ordinary outcome of their actions. They also noted that the damage would not have occurred if not for the new outbreak, as the Summit Road fire was largely contained.

The Court found it was fair and reasonable to impose a duty on the Park, and that this duty was owed to the plaintiffs as they were sufficiently proximate. They held that the Park had breached this duty, as a reasonable chairlift operator would have been aware that a major forest fire was likely to ignite the plastic chairs and that dropping molten plastic would cause fire, so would have removed all the chairs. Therefore, they had been negligent.
The Court also found the Park was liable in nuisance.

As there was a causal nexus between the Park’s negligent actions and the loss, they were ordered to compensate the 80 plaintiff’s insurers for their losses, and the 80 plaintiffs for their uninsured losses, including an award of interest and costs. This was roughly NZ$12 million.