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Evolving Role of the Courts: Constitutional Review of Legislation under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990

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posted on 2021-11-10, 08:43 authored by Connell, Charlotte

The constitutional landscape in New Zealand has undergone significant change over the last 20-35 years to improve the transparency and accountability of decision-making in the three branches of government. While most of these changes are a direct result of legislation, the constitutional role of the court has also been evolving and has seen the development of judicial review of the substance of the law for consistency with the New Zealand constitution. The orthodox view of the constitution is heavily critical of judicial, or constitutional, review of legislation by the courts and considers it to be an illegitimate encroachment on the domain of Parliament. This paper explores the legitimacy of constitutional review of legislation by the courts, specifically constitutional review of legislation under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (the Bill of Rights Act). To be legitimate, constitutional review by the courts must have both legal authority and be performed consistently with the constitution. This paper observes that s 5 of the Bill of Rights Act has been employed by the courts, without interference from Parliament, to review legislation for consistency with that Act and that the courts use the purposive approach to interpretation and the proportionality analysis to perform such review consistently with the constitution. Finally, the paper explores whether the developing jurisdiction of constitutional review necessitates a new paradigm to define the constitutional relationship between the courts and Parliament because the orthodox view of New Zealand's constitution is no longer supportable as the definitive position


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Law

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Butler, Petra; Geiringer, Claudia