JUDGE SAYS RIGHTS CASE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
FRIDAY 21 AUGUST 2020
A High Court judge says the case taken by COLFO to defend compensation rights was in the public interest so costs awarded against COLFO should be reduced.
The substantive judgment in June found that New Zealanders do have a right to compensation when government abrogates property rights, but Parliament could legislate against that right.
In his decision on costs, Cooke J said the “Court’s judgment vindicated the [property compensation] right notwithstanding that the claims were unsuccessful.”
The Judge said individuals and groups seeking to uphold property rights should not be dissuaded from taking court action by prohibitively high costs.
“Questions of legality, and legal principle, should be central when the government is responding to a crisis or emergency. Litigation challenging decisions made in such circumstances is not to be discouraged by costs awards, particularly if it properly concerns the protection of individual rights... These factors should be taken into account in deciding costs in this case.”
COLFO Chairman Michael Dowling says that judgement echoed similar recent Court decisions about Parliament over-riding rights and law.
“In recent weeks it has been established that New Zealanders’ rights can be overridden by governments when they choose. But we must continue to fight for our rights, including to property, and compensation when the State takes it from us.”
“This court case has given a good signal to voters about how to place their vote this election,” says Dowling.
COLO has been ordered to pay costs of $25,071.15, minus a 20 per cent reduction.
COLFO said the costs would be paid using donations raised for the legal case.
COLFO is appealing the June judgment, which found in favour of the Crown.