End the reign of King Gerry I

Andrew Geddis blogs a letter from 27 legal scholars expressing concern over the powers granted to the Executive under the Canterbury Response and Recovery Earthquake Act.

The authors are:

Professor Stuart Anderson, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.
Mark Bennett, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Malcom Birdling, Keble College, University of Oxford.
Joel Colon-Rios, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Richard Cornes, School of Law, University of Essex.
Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, Faculty of Law, University of Waikato.
Professor John Dawson, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.
Richard Ekins, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.
Associate Prof. Andrew Geddis, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.
Claudia Geiringer, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Kris Gledhill, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.
Professor Bruce Harris, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.
Professor Mark Henaghan, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.
Dr John Hopkins, Law School, University of Canterbury.
John Ip, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.
Carwyn Jones, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Dean Knight, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Prof. Elizabeth McLeay, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Steven Price, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Vernon Rive, Law School, Auckland University of Technology.
Mary-Rose Russell, Law School, Auckland University of Technology.
Katherine Sanders, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.
Dr Rayner Thwaites, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Professor Jeremy Waldron, New York University School of Law.
Ceri Warnock, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.
Nicola Wheen, Faculty of Law, Univerity of Otago.
Hanna Wilberg, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.

Maxim Institute has also endorsed the letter.

My view is that it is desirable for Parliament to amend the Act in say two or three months time. By then it should be clear which acts may need to be amended by order-in-council, and the CERR Act can be changed so that it only applies to a small number of specified acts, rather than to every act (bar five) in New Zealand.

The list of signatories is impressive, with no less than seven law professors. I would make the point that it would perhaps carry more weight if they had also obtained signatures from lawyers outside the universities. A few senior partners from the big law firms would make it harder to dismiss as just “academics”, as would the senior officers of the Law Society?

Doesn’t the Law Society have a rule of law committee? I’d like to hear their view on the law. People should debate this issue – not because there is a risk that King Gerry I is going to declare martial law, but because of the precedent it does set for future disasters.

I think the One News poll had 89% approval (a staggering figure) of the Government’s response to the earthquake. This shows that the public like the fact the Government has put such emphasis on the earthquake recovery. But that doesn’t mean it would still not be a good idea to narrow the scope of the CERR Act in the not so distant future.

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