Supreme Court of New Zealand Ups the Ante for Justice

The state-controlled press fears to report it.  It is a case which strikes at the highest levels of State power and involves affidavit evidence from a Transparency International officer in Berlin.  It is also setting  lady justice w.scalenew rules upon which costs can be ordered by Judges.

In a judgment issued this week, the Supreme Court of New Zealand ordered a whistle-blower pay $2,500 to Transparency International New Zealand as it dismissed challenge of another $3,500 Court of Appeal costs order to TINZ.

The Supreme Court acquiesced on the question that TINZ and the Court of Appeal may have flouted the Court of Appeal Rules in conducting a strike out hearing on an already dead appeal but concluded there were four things the appellants “could have done” to make TINZ and the Court of Appeal bench aware the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction.   Though the Appellant Malcolm Rabson had not opposed the actions of the Court and TINZ, the Supreme Court concluded the costs order justified because he failed to inform the full bench they were acting outside the rules and failed to “consent” to strike-out which might have saved TINZ lawyers from pursuing the useless exercise.

Lay litigant Rabson immediately filed an application to the Supreme Court for judgment recall on grounds it was not his obligation in law to “tutor” three senior judges and opposing counsel on their compliance with Court Rules which no one disputed in this case were applicable – indeed, routinely applicable.

The identical scenario occurred to Rabson in May 20014 – with a distinctly different result.  Then-President of the Court of Appeal Mark O’Regan determined he would hold a strike out hearing on an appeal which had been dead for a year.   Costs were consequently ordered against Rabson (Rabson v Chapman [2014] NZCA 158) and he appealed to the Supreme Court.  Supreme Court Judge Susan Glazebrook issued a private memo in response telling Rabson to seek recall on the basis “the Court of Appeal may have overlooked the fact that the appeal had already been deemed abandoned.”  When Rabson insisted the Supreme Court issue a ruling to that effect, the full bench ruled “the better course would be for Mr Rabson to apply for a recall of the Court of Appeal’s judgment”, ending with “The application for review is declined.”  The Court later added “there is no risk of a miscarriage” due to the available recall remedy.

In December 2015 Rabson filed a further application to the Supreme Court (SC135/2015) on grounds the Court of Appeal had refused to rule on the recall directed by the Supreme Court.  This has yet to be determined.

The New Zealand chapter of Transparency International is largely funded by the New Zealand government.  In its 2014 “Integrity System Assessment” survey, TINZ gave the Judiciary a perfect 100 score and concluded the Office of the NZ Auditor General “is the most trusted pillar… in the most trusted country in the world”.  The Office of the NZ Auditor General provided primary funding for the survey and was listed on the chapter website as TINZ’s “Platinum Partner”.

The Supreme Court’s ruling puts the nail in the coffin on any legal remedy in respect to local corruption within TINZ.  The court proceeding began in 2014 as a judicial review challenging TINZ’s prevention of an ethics complaint against Chairperson Suzanne Snively for promoting a fraudulent company with a similar name to TI.   The High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have all now weighed in that this is not a matter for the courts to decide.

Those who have seen the sequestered New Zealand court files express shock at the irony of Transparency International hiding evidence New Zealand Judges were complicit in covering up the fraudulent company its local director promoted to solicit trade from overseas companies with “corruption free” New Zealand.

The evidence is the 10 March 2014 Board Minutes of TINZ which record “the Judiciary, Serious Fraud Office and the Police” have advised Transparency International to “ignore” the ethics complaint.

Transparency International Berlin refused early last month to disclose the email instruction it was sent from the New Zealand government notwithstanding its disclosure policy thrust “For any NGO legitimacy heavily rests in the trust of a public in the mandate and good work delivered, demanding expansive transparency.”  The Policy adds disclosure has few limitations and, in the event TI invokes a limitation, a supporting opinion from its legal section will be provided.

A TI intern denied the request in early January claiming the advice from its chapter on behalf of the NZ government to ignore an ethics complaint was “exclusively third party information”, therefore exempt from disclosure.

The intern did not respond to repeated requests from members for the legal advice TI’s disclosure policy proclaims will be provided with any disclosure refusal.