High Court on Electoral Commission discretion

The High Court has rejected National’s lawsuit regarding the correctness of the decision not to refer Labour to the Police over their pamphlet which was distributed this year without an authorisation statement.

I have not seen a copy of the judgement, so if anyone has a copy can they send it to me.

The issue is to some degree academic, as the Police are investigating anyway following a complaint from a member of the public. But the Electoral Commission will be pleased to have their judgement upheld as having correctly applied their discretion.

I did comment at the time that I thought it was “a reasonable decision” not to refer Labour to the Police.

Another aspect of ’s lawsuit was that they were seeking the Court to rule on whether the pamphlet was an election expense. This would have clarified how the parliamentary purposes/capacity as an MP exemption works. Even Helen Clark was supportive of the lawsuit getting clarity on that.

But sadly the Court earlier decided that as there is no decision made on whether or not it is an expense, there is nothing to review. And the Electoral Commission has said it will make no decisions on what is or is not an expense until election returns are filed next year.

So parties are unable to get clear guidance on what is or is not an expense under the EFA, and will just have to hope their interpretation of the law is matched by the electoral authorities, the Police and the Courts. Another win for the law of common sense!

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