Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Law Society comments on Canterbury Earthquake Act

MEDIA RELEASE – For immediate use, 29 September 2010

Law Society comments on Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act

The New Zealand Law Society has said it recognises that there were unprecedented circumstances which led to Parliament passing the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010.

Law Society President Jonathan Temm today said the earthquake was an exceptional and devastating event which justified emergency legislation to facilitate the recovery of the Canterbury region.

Mr Temm said it was understandable that the resulting Act made exemptions, modifications or extensions to relevant legislation. It was also noted that the new powers were seen as having a finite duration, with the Act expiring on 1 April 2012.

“We acknowledge the pressures which have been placed on Parliament to provide appropriate machinery for assisting recovery in Canterbury,” Mr Temm said. “However, the Law Society believes it has both a legal and a moral duty to place on record its concern that there are some serious issues with the Act and how the Act impacts on the rule of law.”

“We are not going to criticise the legislation from the sidelines. While we strongly point to what we see as problems in the way the legislation is drafted, we have some suggestions on how Parliament can resolve these.”

Mr Temm said the Law Society believed that the powers delegated to Ministers by section 6 of the Act were potentially at odds with maintenance of the principles of the rule of law.

“An Order in Council may make exemptions from, modify or extend the provisions of any New Zealand statute, with only five exceptions. Lawyers and commentators have already pointed out that this could include the Crimes Act, legislation on taxation and revenue, and many other statutes which have no connection to recovery work in Canterbury.

“Of course, it can be said that the powers will never be used. However, our concern is that while everyone may act with the best intentions in the interests of Canterbury and New Zealand, there is still reliance on anyone using the powers conferred by the Act to define their own boundaries and restraints. Even actions which are taken in good faith by officials could go beyond what was envisaged by Parliament when it passed the legislation.”

Mr Temm said the Law Society also pointed to the provision in the Act which made it difficult or impossible for anyone to obtain a judicial ruling on whether the powers in the Act had been used appropriately.

“The Society suggests that a workable approach would be to specify which Acts might be the subject of Orders in Council. This would limit and define the powers without necessarily preventing their use for earthquake recovery in any way. Judicial review should also be available to determine whether power has been used appropriately or otherwise.”

Mr Temm said the Law Society has written to the Attorney-General with details of its concerns and with an offer to work with Parliamentary officials or others in dealing with the concerns which are now being voiced about the legislation.

Backgrounder: Some background information has also been provided in addition to this press release, on the New Zealand Law Society and its duty to uphold the rule of law in New Zealand.


BACKGROUNDER – For immediate use, 29 September 2010

New Zealand Law Society and its duty to uphold the Rule of Law

The powers and duties of the New Zealand Law Society are set out in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, which came into force in 2008.

Under the Act, the Society is required to regulate the practice of law in New Zealand and to uphold the fundamental obligations imposed on lawyers providing regulated services (section 65).

The Act also states that a function of the New Zealand Law Society is to “assist and promote, for the purpose of upholding the rule of law and facilitating the administration of justice in New Zealand, the reform of the law.” (section 65(e).

The Act requires every lawyer in New Zealand to comply with the “fundamental obligation” of upholding the rule of law and facilitating the administration of justice in New Zealand (section 4(a)).

All New Zealand lawyers are, therefore, required by law to uphold the concept of the rule of law. This is a duty which the New Zealand Law Society has always seen as of the utmost importance. The Society has a special Rule of Law Committee which scrutinises legislation and government action within New Zealand.

Through its membership of international legal organisations concerned with the rule of law, the Society also focuses on activities outside New Zealand. It has not hesitated to comment on developments in jurisdictions such as Fiji where the rule of law is seen to be under threat.

Press Release: This background information is intended to complement a press release made by the New Zealand Law Society on the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Epic Fails Of Kris Faafoi

Ever since Winston Peters first breathed life into this government in 2018, its own branding has been all about social justice and how we all need to be “kind” to each other. Somehow, Kris Faafoi must have missed the memo. His performance in the immigration portfolio (in particular) has neither been kind nor just, especially to the migrants whose skills New Zealand will need to get us through Covid, and grow the economy into the future... More>>

Covid-19 & Government: Government Green Lights Rapid Antigen Testing

Some of the country’s largest businesses have put in an order for 300,000 approved rapid antigen tests for their workforce, after working at pace with the Government on a new scheme unveiled by Associate Minister of Health and Research, Science and Innovation Ayesha Verrall... More>>



Government: Opportunity To Shape NZ’s First Emissions Reduction Plan
The Government is inviting New Zealanders to inform the country’s first Emissions Reduction Plan with the release of a consultation document containing a range of policy ideas to decrease the country’s emissions, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced today... More>>


Government: Books Show Resilient And Strong Economy
The end of year audited Crown accounts released today show the Government’s health led approach to the COVID-19 pandemic has protected New Zealand’s economy. “On almost every indicator the accounts show that the New Zealand economy has performed better than forecast... More>>

Healthcare: Health System Is Ready For Assisted-dying Law
The health system is ready for the implementation of the End of Life Choice Act when it takes effect next month, making assisted dying legal in New Zealand, Health Minister Andrew Little said today... More>>


Government: Mandatory Vaccination For Two Workforces

Large parts of two workforces critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 will be required to be vaccinated, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Our education and health and disability workforces have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic to keep themselves and people safe,” Chris Hipkins said.... More>>

Green Party: Deeply Concerned Space Launches May Be Breaching Nuclear-free Laws

The Green Party is deeply concerned that space launches by Rocket Lab may be breaching nuclear-free laws, given our long-standing position as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty... More>>

Children's Commissioner: Call For Mandatory Vaccination Of Children’s Workforce
The Children’s Commissioner and Assistant Māori Commissioner are calling for a plan for the mandatory vaccination of teachers and the entire children’s workforce in New Zealand... More>>




InfoPages News Channels