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Archive for May, 2010

UK defamation reform bill on the way

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Lib-Dem peer, Reynolds lawyer and free speech thinker Lord Antony Lester has drawn up a Defamation Bill to try to even the balance between speech and reputation in the UK. Details are sketchy at the moment, but the proposals seem to include a requirement that plaintiffs prove some sort of “real harm” and corporate plaintiffs […]

Morse wins right to appeal flag-burning conviction

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Yay! Tony Shaw, Felix Geiringer and I have been granted leave by Supreme Court to argue that Valerie Morse should not have been convicted of offensive behaviour for burning a flag at an Anzac Day ceremony. Along the way, hopefully we’ll be able to sort out how the Bill of Rights applies to open-textured criminal […]

Siemer wins reduction in sentence for contempt

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Vince Siemer has reshaped the law of contempt in New Zealand. The Supreme Court has ruled 3-2 that the Bill of Rights right to a jury trial applies to those charged with contempt, since they face potential jail terms of more than 3 months. But since it’s unfeasible to give all contempt respondents jury trials, […]

Price wins chocolate fish

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

In a recent speech Law Commission President Sir Geoffrey Palmer laid down a challenge: define “privacy”. He promised a chocolate fish for the best entry. His view is that privacy defies definition. I proved him wrong. This is the correct definition of privacy: Privacy is what people believe they have lost when they complain about […]

Jones wins defamation damages of $104,000

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Bob Jones won $104,000 in his defamation case against Chris Lee. I don’t know much about the case, but on this report it illustrates some good lessons: an apology in time can avert an expensive and risky court battle; both sides’ costs probably exceeded the damages award (though such actions are cheap compared with costs […]

Hate speech

Monday, May 10th, 2010

In recent issues of the Listener, Deborah Hill Cone has been upping the frequency of her snarky swipes at the left. Last week, she highlighted the irony of liberals who preach tolerance but try to “shut down” Ann Coulter’s speech. She suggested that “[c]onservative speakers can’t visit campuses in the US now without bodyguards”. What, […]

Sir Geoffrey Palmer: the fourth branch of government

Monday, May 10th, 2010

A sentence from the Herald on Sunday’s story about Louise Nicolas’s objections to Clint Rickards’ presence of the duty solicitor roster caught my eye: A lawyer, who did not want to be named for fear of punishment from the Law Commission, said there were many people at the courthouse “who don’t want the guy in […]

America: Fuck yeah!

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

The Onion reports on a US Supreme Court obscenity decision upholding First Amendment rights. Recommended, if only for the accompanying photograph.

The right to receive information revived…

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

I have long thought that our official information laws ought to be affected by the NZ Bill of Rights Act’s guarantee of freedom of expression, which says: Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form. Surely, I thought, […]

NZ’s Dunne v Canwest

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Here’s a column I wrote about the Dunne case suggesting that the media’s predictions of doom and gloom were wrong. Judging by the media reaction, Justice Young’s decision to order TV3 to include Peter Dunne and Jim Anderton in its leaders’ debate last week was one of the most astonishing blunders in judicial history. Media […]