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Lack Of Evidence For Privy Council Proposal

For immediate release 11 August 2003

Official Papers Highlight Lack Of Evidence For
Privy Council Proposal

Government papers released to the Institute of Chartered Accountants under the Official Information Act reveal concerns from key Government advisors over the decision to abolish New Zealanders’ right to appeal to the Privy Council.

“At the time the Attorney-General was pushing her proposals through cabinet, officials were warning that there was not enough evidence to support her proposals, and that proceeding through cabinet without proper consultation would expose the Government to risk of partial or inappropriate consultation,” Institute Chief Executive Diana Pryde said today.

“In particular, Treasury recommended the development of a consultation paper comparing and contrasting the costs and benefits of a New Zealand based final appellant court and the Privy Council.”

The papers reveal that Treasury and the Ministry of Economic Development both expressed concerns about a lack of analysis of the costs involved, especially given that the number of appeals were projected to rise significantly. Concern was also expressed that there was no analysis on the implications for business law and the commercial sector, and that the impact on the overworked Court of Appeal was uncertain.

“From the material provided, the Institute is of the view that Treasury and the Ministry of Economic Development were not subsequently given the opportunity to comment on the Regulatory Impact Statement used to justify the decision to Ministers,” Ms Pryde said.

“We are also concerned at the way consultation was represented to Ministers in the Attorney General’s paper. The big five accounting firms were identified as neither supporting nor opposing retention, yet they are strong opponents of the Attorney General’s proposals.”

“To this day the Attorney General has failed to address the issues raised by officials and subsequently repeated by many groups in the community, including the Institute. In fact, the Attorney General ignored these concerns and convened a working group only for the purpose of determining what structure a New Zealand Supreme Court should take.

“Only the Justice and Electoral Committee has called for submissions on whether a New Zealand Court would be an improvement on the Privy Council. The onus is on the government to clearly demonstrate to the Committee the need for reform. To date, it has not.”
….. ends

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