Responsible publication of criminal accusations in New Zealand – the case for change
In 2000, a full Court of Appeal in Vickery v McLean excluded all generally published allegations of criminal conduct from the protection of Lange qualified privilege. Highlighting difficulties with the Court of Appeal’s reasoning, this paper argues that New Zealand’s current approach represents an unjustifiable limitation on the right to freedom of expression and is out of line with comparable jurisdictions. It suggests that adopting the principle from the recent UK Supreme Court decision in Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd, within the existing Lange framework, strikes a more appropriate balance between freedom of expression and the right to reputation. Doing so would allow Lange privilege to protect unproven, but verified, allegations of criminal impropriety whilst adequately safeguarding reputations and guarding against fears of trial by media.