Richard William Prebble & Ors V Donna Awatere Huat
Supreme Court of New Zealand
18 November 2004
MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
PREBBLE & ORS v DONNA AWATERE HUATA
(SC CIV 9/2004)
This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found at Judicial Decisions of Public Interest www.courts.govt.nz/judgments
The five Judges of the Supreme Court have unanimously allowed the appeal by the ACT Party leadership from the Court of Appeal’s 4:1 ruling that they had no legal basis for their belief that Mrs Awatere Huata had distorted the proportionality of party political representation in Parliament when she became an independent. The Court has found that Mrs Awatere Huata’s actions led to her becoming an independent member of Parliament. That change in her status reduced the ACT Party’s caucus from nine to eight members and distorted the proportionality of ACT’s representation in Parliament as established at the last general election.
The belief of the ACT leadership that this distortion had been brought about by Mrs Awatere Huata’s own actions was a reasonable belief. The Supreme Court has held that there was no legal reason why the ACT leader should be prevented from delivering to the Speaker a notice having the effect of making Mrs Awatere Huata’s seat in Parliament vacant. It has therefore set aside the Court of Appeal’s order restraining the delivery of the intended notice, and has reinstated the order of the High Court which dismissed Mrs Awatere Huata’s case.