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


MSD v L: Fictitious signatures not lawful

26 September 2018

The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development v L [2018] NZHC 2528

Press summary

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 www.courtsofnz.govt.nz.

The High Court has concluded that it is not lawful for members of Committees, established by legislation to review decisions made by government departments, to use fictitious names and signatures when issuing their decisions. The case concerned Benefit Review Committees' use of fictitious names and signatures when determining applications for review by a person claiming entitlements to certain benefits. The case arose because the Ministry of Social Development became concerned about abusive and threatening communications from the applicant. The Ministry decided to have Committee members use fictitious names and signatures to protect them from possible threats and abuse from the applicant.

The High Court has determined that the practice of using fictitious names and signatures breaches an applicant's right to natural justice under s 27(1) of NZBORA because the applicant cannot challenge the impartiality of a Committee member or their qualifications to sit on a Committee if the true identities of Committee members are suppressed.

The High Court observed that express legislative authority would be necessary for the Ministry to infringe upon the right to natural justice in the way it did. The High Court rejected an argument that the Ministry's obligations under health and safety legislation were sufficient to provide that authority.

The High Court noted that only Parliament could change the law to sanction the practice followed by the Ministry in this case.

In its judgment, the High Court also observed that the circumstances of the case before it were insufficient to warrant the use of fictitious names and signatures, even if that practice were permissible. Those circumstances included that the police had earlier assessed the applicant as being "harmless" and unlikely to carry out her threats and that she had never directed her threats and abuse at Committee members.

Full judgment: 2018NZHC2528_MSDvL.pdf

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

RNZ Live Blog: Eruption At Whakaari / White Island

An eruption has occured on Whakaari / White Island in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, sending a huge plume of smoke and ash into the sky.More>>

Police Update
While it was initially believed there were approximately 100 people on or near the island at the time of the eruption, we now believe there were fewer than 50.

Some of those people have been transported to shore, however a number believed to be on the island are currently unaccounted for. Of those transported to shore, at least one has been critically injured. More>>



Big, Bold, Permanent Change Needed: Children's Commissioner On 2019 Child Poverty Monitor

“I want to see family incomes dramatically raised by increasing benefits and making the minimum wage a living wage. And the Government needs to move much faster at increasing the supply of social housing..." More>>


RNZ Live Updates: Weather Mayhem Strands Tourists; Major Roads Closed

Hundreds of tourists are stranded on the West Coast, and on the other side of the South Island a flood-damaged bridge has closed State Highway 1, after a weekend of torrential rain... More>>


Policing: Armoured Specialist Police Vehicles

New Zealand Police has taken delivery of three Armoured Special Purpose Vehicles. The vehicles are unmarked and look like standard Toyota Land cruisers... They will not be used for patrol. More>>

Single Use PVC And Polystyrene Out: Next Steps On Plastic Waste

The Government will phase out more single-use plastics following the success of its single-use plastic bag ban earlier this year and the release today of a pivotal report for dealing with waste. More>>


Faafoi Statement: Minister's Suspicious Immigration Texts

I have apologised to the Prime Minister and understand I have let her down in regards to my dealings with Jason Kerrison over an immigration matter concerning his family. More>>


NZ First Conflicts Of Interest: New Details Around Timeline

New information has emerged showing it was the New Zealand First chief of staff who identified potential conflicts of interest between a forestry company and two senior government ministers, sparking a series of declarations. More>>



Five New Cancer Meds In Six Months: Pharmac Funds More Cancer Medicines, Faster Assessment

PHARMAC has confirmed that two new medicines – olaparib for ovarian cancer and fulvestrant for breast cancer – have been approved for funding... Rituximab and bortezomib, which are already funded, have also been approved for widened access following successful commercial proposals from new suppliers. More>>






InfoPages News Channels