EFB law suit fails against parliamentary privilege

June 21st, 2008 at 2:22 pm by David Farrar

NZPA reports that the lawsuit seeking declaration that the Electoral Finance Bill breached the Bill of Rights, and that the Attorney-General erred in not informing Parliament it did has failed due to parliamentary privilege:

The applicants alleged the Electoral Finance Act did breach the Bill of Rights Act, and that Attorney-General Michael Cullen should have informed Parliament of this.

Justice Clifford said the Attorney-General had been performing a parliamentary function, and had not been acting as a member of the Government.

That meant the Attorney-General’s function was in the privileged category of internal parliamentary proceedings, and was non-justiciable.

This was not unexpected. A lawyer commented to me a while back that the chance of making it past parliamentary privilege was at best 3/10. They also said that if it did make it past the chance of sucess would then have been 9/10 as it was incomprehensible that anyone could find the original bill was not in conflict with the Bill of Rights.

It isn’t clear whether this decision affects only the lawsuit relating to whether the Electoral Finance Bill breached the Bill of Rights, or also affects the other lawsuit by John Boscawen and co seeking a declaration on whether the Electoral Finance Act is also in breach.