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Privy Council decision must go to referendum

Privy Council decision must go to referendum

The Privy Council continues to deliver value to the commercial community and should not be jettisoned lightly, Business NZ told the Justice Select Committee today.

Business NZ Executive Director Anne Knowles said the sweeping constitutional change envisaged in the Supreme Court Bill should not be made law with a simple majority in Parliament.

"A simple majority would result in a major change being forced on a significant proportion of the New Zealand public who do not want the change. It is important that our legal system should not be subject to a structural change or an appointments process that diminishes its value in the eyes of New Zealanders.

"Any decision to change our judicial structure by removing the right to appeal to the Privy Council should be subject to a three-quarters vote in Parliament - an appropriate threshold for deciding on constitutional change - or a national referendum.

"Many New Zealand cases taken to the Privy Council are commercial ones, and the litigants value the commercial understanding displayed at this premier international court.

"Cutting ourselves off from this resource and replacing it with a court that cannot match its commercial depth makes no sense to New Zealand businesses," Ms Knowles said.

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