Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mangawhai Clive on NZ's Courts

The Mangawhai Ratepayer and Resident Association (MRRA) campaign for justice has road-tested much of NZ's justice system. There's been a High Court judicial review, a Court of Appeal hearing, and numerous stoushes in the Whangarei District. And they've tried to get the whole thing in front of the Supreme Court but been rejected there. One of the key figures behind MRRA's legal research is Clive Boonham. A retired lawyer. His belief and commitment to NZ's system of law has been tested by his experiences at Mangawhai which span more than a decade trying to right the wrongs that he has so carefully and diligently analysed and chronicled. On 5th May this year, uncharacteristically, Clive penned the following reflection:

" As a lawyer with a firm belief in the rule of law I found it hard to believe that our courts could be politically influenced. I was brought up believing that the separation of powers was a given in our society. In legal disputes fair play and legal argument would prevail.

As it turned, out most of my ideas were proved to be a fantasy. We had an excellent case that should have swept the field before a court that was open-minded, independent and versed in the law. But that never happened..

The real sufferers are the people of Kaipara and ultimately the people of New Zealand. In addition the rule of law has come a real cropper. We pride ourselves in this country on being liberal, democratic, uncorrupt and supporters of the rule of law, but for those who scratch the surface and probe below it is a very different picture.

In my dotage I am discovering that many of the things things that I cherished have been exposed as frauds. I used to have the greatest respect for senior office holders such as the Auditor-General, but have discovered, along with many others, that the persons holding that office have limited competence, questionable ethics, and are driven by purely political motives.

The sovereignty of Parliament is a principle that is held high by lawyers, being the backbone of our constitution. But I have learned that Parliament is nothing more than an uninformed rabble, performing like a bunch of rowdy, spiteful school kids, again driven by political motivation, personal point-scoring, and very little else. Its status in our constitution is totally unmerited. Its betrayal of the people of Kaipara by passing the inept and ludicrously drafted Kaipara Validation Act will be a huge stain on Parliament's reputation for generations to come.

In Law School I developed an admiration for the justice system and a certain reverence for many Judges. I studied law in England when Lord Justice Denning was at his height trying to bring some new ideas into the law. I developed this belief that the courts would resolve the problems of the people when oppressed by government of central government when there was a clear breach of the law. I believed that the courts were blind to any outside influence and would dispense justice impartially. In that belief I persuaded the MRRA and other ratepayers to put their trust in the legal system and claim their day in court to expose the persistent and blatant wrong-doings of the Kaipara District Council.

I have, sadly, been proved wrong. Justice in New Zealand is indeed blind but not in the way that it should be. I have been dismayed and even appalled by the performance of our judiciary from the District Court through to the Supreme Court. The approach of some of the judges clearly showed an antipathy against our claims, and even a bias, irrespective of the merits of our legal case and the strength of our legal arguments. The various judgments are remarkable because they glossed over the legislative history and the clear meaning of the enactments in question and superimposed a regime of implicit powers that met the expectations of local government, the banks, and the government. We were warned again and again by senior lawyers that irrespective of our case we did not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding, and they were right.

The other major loss in all this is to the law in relation to the legal obligations of local authorities. The courts, in their alacrity to deal to rebel ratepayers, have set in concrete judgments that effectively nullify many of the obligations of local authorities under the Local Government Act and the Local Government (Rating) Act. The Court of Appeal has now established beyond any doubt that where money is borrowed, compliance with the LGA and the LGRA are not required. Not only that, a local authority can borrow money for an illegal purpose and the ratepayers of the district are compelled to pay rates to fund the unlawful debt.

But its not all bad. There are some things left to cherish. There has been some wonderful support from the Mangawhai and Kaipara community – those dedicated souls who had a strong sense of justice beating in their chest. There has also been much support from around New Zealand and from overseas. People are realising that democracy as we understand it is gradually and imperceptibly being whittled down.

The government bulldozer is crushing all before it. But most people are so busy looking ahead that they haven’t seen it creeping up behind them."

Thought these thoughts merited a wider audience.

4 comments:

Bruce Rogan said...

this should be compulsory reading for every lawyer in the country, and for every judge. Those of them who can read, that is.

Barry Copeland said...

This is a very disturbing view, thanks for sharing. Is this legal battled all now settled, without further recourse ?

Wayno said...

You have smashed my long held belief that its a legal system (for the betterment of the legal people - rather than a Justice system for the victims) as its so named. ITS NOT EVEN A LEGAL SYSTEM. Better described as a GOVERNMENT & BIG BUSINESS VIGILANTE BLUNDERBUSS.

Anonymous said...

I have never been the slightest bit interested in either Local Government or politics in general. Since this fiasco materialised at least 10 years ago , we have indirectly been embroiled in this whole saga , and by default have learned the hard way. If this is an example of how our supposed "system" works ... then I am completely and utterly bereft of semblance of respect towards any of these entities , including the judicial system. We are simply disgusted. Certainly our naivety has been exposed and our confidence shaken in our thinking that the general public are protected and will always have someone to go to for help. The general perception of what is perceived to be morally right or wrong means nothing, and to attempt to describe the feeling of isolation this creates is pointless. Big business , money , selfishness , political bias , and shady dealings now seem to be considered "normal" in every day life. A watershed period of realisation for us at least. But then you see the likes of these Government representatives most nights on TV news , and it all then makes absolute sense. The rest of their sycophants are simply more of the same.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mangawhai Clive on NZ's Courts

The Mangawhai Ratepayer and Resident Association (MRRA) campaign for justice has road-tested much of NZ's justice system. There's been a High Court judicial review, a Court of Appeal hearing, and numerous stoushes in the Whangarei District. And they've tried to get the whole thing in front of the Supreme Court but been rejected there. One of the key figures behind MRRA's legal research is Clive Boonham. A retired lawyer. His belief and commitment to NZ's system of law has been tested by his experiences at Mangawhai which span more than a decade trying to right the wrongs that he has so carefully and diligently analysed and chronicled. On 5th May this year, uncharacteristically, Clive penned the following reflection:

" As a lawyer with a firm belief in the rule of law I found it hard to believe that our courts could be politically influenced. I was brought up believing that the separation of powers was a given in our society. In legal disputes fair play and legal argument would prevail.

As it turned, out most of my ideas were proved to be a fantasy. We had an excellent case that should have swept the field before a court that was open-minded, independent and versed in the law. But that never happened..

The real sufferers are the people of Kaipara and ultimately the people of New Zealand. In addition the rule of law has come a real cropper. We pride ourselves in this country on being liberal, democratic, uncorrupt and supporters of the rule of law, but for those who scratch the surface and probe below it is a very different picture.

In my dotage I am discovering that many of the things things that I cherished have been exposed as frauds. I used to have the greatest respect for senior office holders such as the Auditor-General, but have discovered, along with many others, that the persons holding that office have limited competence, questionable ethics, and are driven by purely political motives.

The sovereignty of Parliament is a principle that is held high by lawyers, being the backbone of our constitution. But I have learned that Parliament is nothing more than an uninformed rabble, performing like a bunch of rowdy, spiteful school kids, again driven by political motivation, personal point-scoring, and very little else. Its status in our constitution is totally unmerited. Its betrayal of the people of Kaipara by passing the inept and ludicrously drafted Kaipara Validation Act will be a huge stain on Parliament's reputation for generations to come.

In Law School I developed an admiration for the justice system and a certain reverence for many Judges. I studied law in England when Lord Justice Denning was at his height trying to bring some new ideas into the law. I developed this belief that the courts would resolve the problems of the people when oppressed by government of central government when there was a clear breach of the law. I believed that the courts were blind to any outside influence and would dispense justice impartially. In that belief I persuaded the MRRA and other ratepayers to put their trust in the legal system and claim their day in court to expose the persistent and blatant wrong-doings of the Kaipara District Council.

I have, sadly, been proved wrong. Justice in New Zealand is indeed blind but not in the way that it should be. I have been dismayed and even appalled by the performance of our judiciary from the District Court through to the Supreme Court. The approach of some of the judges clearly showed an antipathy against our claims, and even a bias, irrespective of the merits of our legal case and the strength of our legal arguments. The various judgments are remarkable because they glossed over the legislative history and the clear meaning of the enactments in question and superimposed a regime of implicit powers that met the expectations of local government, the banks, and the government. We were warned again and again by senior lawyers that irrespective of our case we did not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding, and they were right.

The other major loss in all this is to the law in relation to the legal obligations of local authorities. The courts, in their alacrity to deal to rebel ratepayers, have set in concrete judgments that effectively nullify many of the obligations of local authorities under the Local Government Act and the Local Government (Rating) Act. The Court of Appeal has now established beyond any doubt that where money is borrowed, compliance with the LGA and the LGRA are not required. Not only that, a local authority can borrow money for an illegal purpose and the ratepayers of the district are compelled to pay rates to fund the unlawful debt.

But its not all bad. There are some things left to cherish. There has been some wonderful support from the Mangawhai and Kaipara community – those dedicated souls who had a strong sense of justice beating in their chest. There has also been much support from around New Zealand and from overseas. People are realising that democracy as we understand it is gradually and imperceptibly being whittled down.

The government bulldozer is crushing all before it. But most people are so busy looking ahead that they haven’t seen it creeping up behind them."

Thought these thoughts merited a wider audience.

4 comments:

Bruce Rogan said...

this should be compulsory reading for every lawyer in the country, and for every judge. Those of them who can read, that is.

Barry Copeland said...

This is a very disturbing view, thanks for sharing. Is this legal battled all now settled, without further recourse ?

Wayno said...

You have smashed my long held belief that its a legal system (for the betterment of the legal people - rather than a Justice system for the victims) as its so named. ITS NOT EVEN A LEGAL SYSTEM. Better described as a GOVERNMENT & BIG BUSINESS VIGILANTE BLUNDERBUSS.

Anonymous said...

I have never been the slightest bit interested in either Local Government or politics in general. Since this fiasco materialised at least 10 years ago , we have indirectly been embroiled in this whole saga , and by default have learned the hard way. If this is an example of how our supposed "system" works ... then I am completely and utterly bereft of semblance of respect towards any of these entities , including the judicial system. We are simply disgusted. Certainly our naivety has been exposed and our confidence shaken in our thinking that the general public are protected and will always have someone to go to for help. The general perception of what is perceived to be morally right or wrong means nothing, and to attempt to describe the feeling of isolation this creates is pointless. Big business , money , selfishness , political bias , and shady dealings now seem to be considered "normal" in every day life. A watershed period of realisation for us at least. But then you see the likes of these Government representatives most nights on TV news , and it all then makes absolute sense. The rest of their sycophants are simply more of the same.