Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Kate Wilkinson's Resource Management (Security for Costs) Amendment Bill has been drawn from the ballot. It's not online quite yet (and I don't have a copy) - but from the title and National's RMA policy it is about allowing the Environment Court to demand security for costs from objectors. The net result of this will be to limit access to the RMA process only to the rich. So much for "one law for all"...


Mash: It may very well be - but limiting access on the basis of wealth is simply grossly inequitable. What it will mean is that rich applicants will get their way, and poor objectors will be left with no effective way to enforce their rights or ensure that the process is properly followed (and vice versa).

Access to justice should noe depend on wealth. that's a basic principle of civilised countries, and of New Zealand. Unfortunately, it seems the National Party disagrees...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/10/2006 01:56:00 PM

Security for costs are required in civil cases, so why should the enivironment court be any different?

Posted by Anonymous : 5/10/2006 09:13:00 PM

The RMA is the bane of all developers big and small and their host of hangers-on particularly those of a legal bent , woops! no I will leave it.
They have used every possible device and loophole to get their way around the provisions in the Act to allow their plans to proceed unhindered.

Water takes in Canterbury are a case in point. the levels are dangerously low even with RMA, without it we could have a disaster in matter of a year or two.

The other is the sad case of the Rotorua Lakes which may never recover from uncontrolled
pollution prior to the RMA.

We don't own this land we are ony its guardians and we haven't done that well at guarding it.

I/S I agree with your comment about wealth being the requirement for access. The National Party have lots of strange ideas.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/10/2006 10:52:00 PM

anonymous - security for costs are not required in civil cases, they are (generally) required in civil *appeals*.

Now, having argued a couple of matters seeking to have the general presumption that security for costs ought to be provided on appeal waived, I can advise that "genuine impecuniosity", such that would prevent a person pursuing an appeal if an application for waiver for security for costs was denied, is generally sufficient grounds to have such a waiver granted (I can provide case law to back this up, if necessary).

Given this, this isn't really about access to justice, because:
1) Poor people can get the requirement to provide security for costs waived; and
2) Poor people can't afford to appeal to the environment court anyway (compared to perhaps even $5000 security for costs, the costs of lawyers and preparing a case are the real limiters of access).

Let's also remember that in the event of loss costs will generally follow anyway (and will invariably be greater than any amount sought as security), the threat of bankruptcy from that is surely another far greater limiter of access to justice.

I've not read the bill in question, but I suspect it is to deal with the following situation:

Devoloper seeks to devolop some area - wealthy local residents are up-in-arms that their pristine view will be blemished and form a "Save The Community Society" to oppose the development. The group loses at first instance and seek a re-hearing in the Environment Court, arguing basically the same argument advanced the first time 'round. They lose again, and having not had to provide security for costs, when the developer seeks to enforce its costs award (for perhaps $20,000 or more) the incorporated society they formed is declared insolvent and folds, leaving the developer substantially out of pocket with no-one to pursue for its right to have a small portion of his legal bills paid.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 5/11/2006 08:39:00 AM

Kate Wilkinson was a lawyer who, I believe, acted mainly for property developers around Chch. IMHO, her bill is payback for their support during her election campaign. It should come as no surprise that National wants to stop people adversely affected by the activities of rapacious property developers from obtaining legail determinations from the Courts (I won;t say justice because that is illusory under our legal system). let's just subdivide the whole Canterbury Plains and drain all the aquifers while we're at it. Lots of National MPs in Parliament as a result.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/11/2006 10:31:00 AM