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Responsible publication of criminal accusations in New Zealand – the case for change

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posted on 14.11.2021, 02:02 by Steel, William

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.


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Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Degree Name

LL.B. (Honours)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Research Paper or Project



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law