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Judgment: GCSB added to Dotcom proceedings

[The following are extracts from the full judgment. The original PDF is at Dotcom__Ors_v_Atorney_General__DC_North_Shore.pdf]



[2012] NZHC 3268
UNDER the Judicature Act 1972
IN THE MATTER OF an application for judicial review
AND FINN BATATO Second Plaintiff
AND BRAM VAN DER KOLK Fourth Plaintiff
Hearing: 14 November 2012
Counsel: P J Davison QC, W Akel and R Woods for First Plaintiff GJ Foley for Second, Third and Fourth Plaintiffs J C Pike and FRJ Sinclair for First Defendant DPH Jones QC, Amicus SBW Grieve QC, Special Advocate
Judgment: 5 December 2012


This judgment was delivered by me on 5 December 2012 at 2.15 pm pursuant to Rule 11.5 of the High Court Rules.

Registrar/ Deputy Registrar

[1] The plaintiffs apply to join an additional defendant, amend the statement of claim, and for additional discovery. The background to these applications is as follows. I have previously determined that aspects of a Police search and seizure in January 2012, in connection with the plaintiffs, were illegal. Following on from that finding, there was a hearing in August 2012 to consider the plaintiffs’ allegations that the Police search and seizure of the Dotcom mansion was unreasonable because it was illegal, and because the force used was excessive in all the circumstances. I refer to this hearing as the remedies hearing.

[2] Following the conclusion of the remedies hearing, material came to light which showed that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) had been intercepting the communications of the first and fourth plaintiffs, Mr Dotcom and Mr van der Kolk. The first defendant concedes that those interceptions were unlawful.

[3] The revelation that the Police had access to intercepted communications gathered by the GCSB created difficulty in the conduct of this litigation. This is material which is likely relevant, at least in part, to an assessment of the circumstances as the Police understood them to be, when they planned the search of the Dotcom property. If so, it is material which should have been available for the remedies hearing. There is further difficulty, however, because the GCSB claims that disclosure of those communications will prejudice New Zealand’s national security interests as it will tend to reveal intelligence gathering and sharing methods. The first defendant also challenges the relevance of the documents, and says, even if they are relevant, I should direct, pursuant to s 70 of the Evidence Act 2006, that they should not be disclosed in the proceeding.


[42] A summary of my rulings is as follows:

(a) The GCSB is joined as a defendant to these proceedings.

(b) Leave is granted to the plaintiffs to amend their claim, in accordance with the draft pleading filed, to seek declarations about the legality of the GCSB’s actions and to seek damages against the Police and the GCSB.

(c) I will inspect any documents relating to the topics identified at pages 76 and 172 of the blue folder (other than those relating to the financial institutions briefing) in order to determine relevance.

(d) The GCSB is to provide discovery of documents in accordance with paragraphs [27] – [30].

(e) Detective Superintendent Pannett is to provide an affidavit in which he deposes whether he viewed a live feed of any aspect of the New Zealand termination operations and, if he did, provides details particularising the timing and enabling identification of the source of that feed and the locations and events being filmed.

(f) Detective Inspectors Jones and Wormald are to file affidavits setting out all their dealings in respect of “the stationary cameras” (attaching any relevant documentation).

[43] There will be a further conference in this proceeding in the second week of December 2012, to resolve any outstanding matters in terms of the judgment, and to address any necessary timetabling in connection with the judgment.


Full judgment: Dotcom__Ors_v_Atorney_General__DC_North_Shore.pdf

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