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Public law book touches every aspect of people’s lives

Public law book touches every aspect of people’s lives, Canterbury law expert says

May 2, 2014

Constitutional and administrative law or public law touches every aspect of people’s lives.

It establishes New Zealand as a constitutional monarchy operating under democratic government and the rule of law, University of Canterbury law academic Professor Philip Joseph says.

The fourth edition of his book Constitutional and Administrative Law in New Zealand will be released next week. The Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson QC, is launching the new edition in Wellington on May 8 at the law firm, Russell McVeagh.

Professor Joseph says public law, like rust, never sleeps. His latest edition straddles many developments in public law since the third edition was published in 2007.

``It is in moments of adversity that ordinary folk turn to the law. The Canterbury earthquakes exposed dramatically how much we depend on the law for the protection of rights. The Government’s decision to offer to purchase vacant land and uninsured red zone properties at 50 percent of the 2007 rateable values was challenged in the courts and found to be unlawful.

``Governments are subject to the law and remain accountable in the courts. The new edition of my book explains how governments of every hue and public decision-makers of every type are controlled by law and must respect the civil and political rights of people enshrined in our human rights legislation.

``The rule of law requires that all Ministers of the Crown and public decision-makers comply with the substantive and procedural protections that govern their decision-making powers.

``Public decision-making affecting private rights must be carried out strictly in accordance with law, and the government’s decision did not comply with the earthquake recovery purposes and procedures of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011.

``Likewise, the Minister of Education’s decision to close Phillipstown School was successfully challenged in the High Court, as the court ruled that the minister had failed adequately to consult the Phillipstown community and hence had failed to discharge her procedural duty.’’

Professor Joseph was hampered in publishing his latest edition for more than a year because of ongoing earthquake-related disruptions.

``For lengthy periods following February 22, 2011, the Canterbury Law Faculty was housed in temporary accommodation, without access to library materials, while the law building was remediated.

``The disruptions were frustrating and enervating in equal measure, causing the extended gestation of this edition.’’

Professor Joseph has an international reputation in the fields of constitutional and administrative law. He has produced about 150 publications during his academic career.


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