Commission Applauds Court Of Appeal Decision
“The Court of Appeal has today put right a long-standing injustice”, said Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan. She was commenting on the Court of Appeal decision in the case taken by the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, Mr Chris Lawrence, on behalf of Ms Erin Lamb.
Ms Lamb raced horses but was prosecuted in 1996 by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc (now the Racing Conference) for being a spouse of a person who had been convicted of assault. The Rules of Racing (which are administered by the Racing Conference) automatically ban people with certain convictions from racing horses, as well as their spouses.
The injustice in this case was that Ms Lamb was the spouse of a man who had been convicted of assaulting her. The Racing Conference granted Ms Lamb’s spouse an exemption under the Rules. He continued to race horses. But she was prosecuted, fined, and ordered to pay costs to the Racing Conference. She was not even told that she could apply for an exemption herself.
“Ms Lamb has shown great courage in seeing through her complaint over five years right through to the Court of Appeal”, said Mr Lawrence. “The Court of Appeal has recognised the significance of the Human Rights Act, describing it as ‘no ordinary statute’. “
Emphasising the importance of the decision, Ms Noonan said, “The decision is a clear signal to those who make rules or policies under the authority of legislation, that in doing so they must take seriously their obligations under the Human Rights Act.”