Law Society supports claim of right review

The Herald reports:

The New Zealand Law Society is welcoming a Government review of the defence used in the Waihopai spy base case, where three activists were acquitted of damaging property because their actions were based on a belief that what they did was lawful.

Yesterday Justice Minister Simon Power announced the review of the “claim of right” defence, including looking at whether there needed to be a “reasonableness element” to it. …

The Law Society’s convener of the criminal law subcommittee, Jonathan Krebs, said a review was timely.

“The defence of a ‘claim of right’ certainly has a place, and it’s an important and fundamental defence to have.

“But if the defence allows someone to be acquitted where there was criminal intent, however well-principled they thought it to be, then there is something wrong with the criminal law and it may need to be adjusted slightly.

If the Government does not change the law, I suspect we will have a rash of property vandalism against various government buildings and embassies, with vandals using the same defence.

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