Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

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

 

Academics Weigh In On Smith V Fonterra

The Supreme Court's decision to advance Michael Smith's climate lawsuit against major polluters marks a significant judicial recognition of climate issues, with University of Auckland law academics highlighting the case’s significance.

The unanimous Supreme Court decision to give the go-ahead to a case brought by Iwi leader Michael Smith against seven of the country’s biggest polluters signals that the Court is united in its acceptance of the existential challenges posed by climate change, say University of Auckland law academics.

Smith, an elder of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Kahu, and a climate change spokesperson for the Iwi Chairs Forum, alleges that the companies damaged, and will continue to damage, his whenua and moana, including places of customary, cultural, historical, food gathering and spiritual significance to him and his whānau.

And although the companies, which include Fonterra, Genesis Energy and Z Energy, applied to strike out the proceeding, the Supreme Court decision this month on 7 February, to allow Mr Smith’s case to proceed, highlights the relevance and importance of judicial involvement in responding to climate-related challenges, and the capacity of the common law, and common-law method to be part of the response, says New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law member Associate Professor Vernon Rive.

“For our Supreme Court to be saying ‘we’ll look at this’ is significant. The role of tikanga Māori is an important element in this case - it may inform the evolution of tort law, and that’s breaking new ground.”

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Associate Professor Rive and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law, Professor Caroline Foster, stress that, globally, swift and coordinated action is needed to manage climate change risks.

“Climate change and the global biodiversity crisis pose major medium to long-term problems which require international action now to avoid serious harm in the future,” says Professor Foster.

“Courts worldwide are currently dealing with similar issues, however, New Zealand law is arguably especially well equipped to do so. The common law embraces both customary international law and tikanga within its rich heritage, and these traditions emphasise due regard for present and future generations.

“Our legal system has proven itself able to adapt in the past to deal with major challenges and it will be interesting to see what happens in the case of Smith v Fonterra and the parallel constitutional law proceedings in Smith v Attorney General, currently awaiting a decision on appeal against strike-out in the Court of Appeal.”

Professor Foster says that as the Smith v Fonterra case moves ahead, special attention will need to be given to the law on standing and causation, and to remedies.

She argues that forward-looking and constructively crafted remedies are most important compared to the more backward-looking apportionment of liability.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Perils Of Joining AUKUS Pillar Two


The lure for New Zealand to join the AUKUS military alliance is that membership of only its “second pillar” will still (supposedly) give us access to state of the art military technologies. As top US official Kurt Campbell said during his visit to Wellington a year ago:
...We've been gratified by how many countries want to join with us to work with cutting-edge technologies like in the cyber arena, hypersonics, you can go down a long list and it's great to hear that New Zealand is interested...
More


 
 

Government: Backs Police To Crackdown On Gangs
The coalition Government is restoring law and order by providing police new tools to crack down on criminal gangs, says Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell. “Over the last five years gangs have recruited more than 3000 members, a 51 per cent increase... More


Government: Retiring Chief Of Navy Thanked For His Service

Defence Minister Judith Collins has thanked the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, for his service as he retires from the Royal New Zealand Navy after 37 years. Rear Admiral Proctor will retire on 16 May to take up an employment opportunity in Australia... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More


Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.