RMA Member’s Bill drawn from ballot
National Party MP
11 May 2006
RMA Member’s Bill drawn from ballot
National Party MP Kate Wilkinson is delighted her Member’s Bill to amend the Resource Management Act has been drawn from the ballot.
“The bill aims to prevent frivolous and vexatious claims from holding up the resource consent process by empowering the Environment Court to require any party to provide security for costs,” she says.
“Other courts have this power and so did the Environment Court until the Green Party hijacked the system, insisting on an amendment completely prohibiting it.
“It is interesting to note that one of the few cases where security for costs ($8,000) was actually ordered was in 2001 against ‘Green Party Hawke’s Bay’ with comments from the judge such as ‘disclosing no reasonable case’ and ‘I have some reservations about what ... the Green Party are trying to achieve’.
“An order for security for costs is never made lightly, and cases show numerous examples of when it is declined. The test is rigorous and discretionary. It is not used to shut out genuine cases but it can be used to stop frivolous and vexatious objectors so they cannot stymie progress.
“If a claim is spurious then, under this amendment, claimants may be ordered to put their money where there mouth is and provide security for costs. If their claim is reasonable then they will have nothing to fear from this amendment.“
Ms Wilkinson says as it stands the RMA is a very real handbrake on progress and development.
“We need responsible participation in the RMA legal process. Security for costs is an important safeguard to this.”
The purpose of this Bill is to return to the Environment Court and Environment Judges the power to order a party to give security for costs. This power is necessary to improve the efficiency and fairness of processes under the Resource Management Act 1991 by limiting vexatious and frivolous objections.
The power to make an order that a party give security for costs was removed by the Resource Management Amendment Act 2003 (2003 No 26), which inserted section 284A into the principal Act.
For the avoidance of doubt, clause 5 amends section 278(1) of the principal Act so that the Environment Court is expressly authorised to order a party to give security for costs.
Clause 6 repeals section 284A of the principal Act so that the Environment Court is no longer prevented from ordering a party to give security for costs.
Resource Management (Security for Costs) Amendment Bill
The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:
This Act is the Resource Management (Security for Costs) Amendment Act 2006.
This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.
3 Principal Act amended
This Act amends the Resource Management Act 1991.
The purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act to allow the Environment Court to order a party to give security for costs.
5 Tribunal has powers of a District
Section 278(1) is repealed and substituting the following subsection substituted:
"(1) The Environment Court and Environment Judges have the same powers that a District Court has in the exercise of its civil jurisdiction, including, without limitation, the power to commission a report from an independent expert on any matter raised in an appeal, as provided for by rules 342 to 348 of the District Courts Rules 1992, and the power to order a party to give security for costs."
6 Section 284A
Section 284A is repealed.
Where, before the commencement of this section, proceedings have been commenced in the Environment Court, the principal Act shall continue to apply in respect of those proceedings, as if this Act had not been passed.