Putting a Social and Cultural Framework on the Evidence Act

Recent New Zealand Supreme Court Guidance


  • David Goddard J
  • Mai Chen




What follows are presentations to a seminar on the Supreme Court decision in Deng v Zheng (2022): guidance on bringing relevant social and cultural information to the court’s attention. The case concerned whether, despite a lack of formal documentation, the parties had entered into a legal partnership, of which they would be jointly responsible for the debts of the partnership. Two issues arose relating to the culture of the parties: namely, whether the meaning to be ascribed to 公司 (gingsi) went beyond ‘company’ and could extend to ‘firm’ or ‘enterprise’ and the significance of 关系 (guanxi). Both parties are Chinese and their business relationship appeared to have been conducted in Mandarin. Justice Goddard was the presiding judge in Zheng v Deng (2020), the Court of Appeal judgment appealed to the Supreme Court. Mai Chen appeared with two other lawyers on behalf of the intervenor, the New Zealand Law Society.

Keywords: social and cultural framework; Evidence Act; expert evidence; translations; interpreters; adjudicative facts; social facts; legislative facts; stereotyping; subconscious bias; judicial notice; reliable published documents.


Download data is not yet available.






Notes & Other Matters