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Judgment: Attorney-General v Taylor & Others (Prison Voting)

[Full judgment: AGvTaylor.pdf]

IN THE COURT OF APPEALOF NEW ZEALAND
CA470/2015 [2017] NZCA 215

BETWEEN THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Appellant
AND ARTHUR WILLIAM TAYLOR
First Respondent
HINEMANU NGARONOA, SANDRA WILDE, KIRSTY OLIVIA FENSOM AND CLAIRE THRUPP
Second to Fifth Respondents

[…]

JUDGMENT OF THE COURT
AThe appeal is dismissed.
BThe appellant must pay the second to fifth respondents’ costs for a complex appeal on a Band A basis with usual disbursements.


REASONS OF THE COURT
(Given byWild and Miller JJ)

Introduction
[1] In December 2010 Parliament amended the Electoral Act 1993, extending to all prisoners a prohibition on voting that was formerly restricted to prisoners sentenced to three or more years’ imprisonment.
[2] The respondents, five prisoners, brought a proceeding in the High Court seeking a declaration that the amending legislation, which we will call the 2010 Act, is inconsistent with the right to vote affirmed and protected by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

[…]

Result
[187] To answer each of the questions we setout at [4]:
(1) The higher courts of New Zealand have jurisdiction to make a DoI.
(2) The jurisdiction derives from the power of the higher courts to answer questions of law and is confirmed by the Bill of Rights.
(3) The power to make a DoI is discretionary and mustbe exercised with restraint. Its ambit is discussed above at [149]–[162].
[188] When considering the justification for legislation a court must be sensitive to parliamentary privilege. It may examine the parliamentary record to the extent that it is necessaryand useful, but it must not question the parliamentary treatment of the matter in issue.
[189] Finally, we have held that a DoI ought not to have been granted on MrTaylor’s application, because he lacked standing to ask for it. However, the DoI was made in a single proceeding in which all plaintiffs joined.223 That being so, the formal result is that the Attorney’s appeal is dismissed.

Costs
[190] Mr Taylor is the only respondent who is legally aided. The second to fifth respondentsare not, so we award them costs for a complex appeal on a Band A basis with usual disbursements.

[Full judgment: AGvTaylor.pdf]

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