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'In Short He is a Stupid Man': The Judges and the Arbitration Court, 1891-1928

Turnbull Library Record, Vol. 29, pp. 59-78, 1996

Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1465034

21 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2009 Last revised: 10 Sep 2009

Daniel R. Ernst

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: August 31, 2009

Abstract

In the 1890s, New Zealand legislators established the Arbitration Court as an ad hoc system for settling industrial disputes; by the mid-twentieth century the Court had become a pillar of New Zealand's welfare state. This transformation did not proceed smoothly, however, because of a mismatch between the mission and its managers. The judges who presided over the court were more interested in legal principles and forensic debate than the bargains of workers and their employers. They considered their tenure as a purgatory to be endured until they were promoted to full-time service on the New Zealand Supreme Court. This mismatch resulted because the Court evolved into an institution that differed from the founders' intent and because a dearth of other professionals left only the judiciary as a vehicle for putting the resolution of industrial disputes beyond the reach of partisan politics.

This article is reproduced by kind permission of the Friends of the Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand (www.turnbullfriends.org.nz).

Keywords: Labor, Courts, New Zealand

JEL Classification: J52, K33

Suggested Citation

Ernst, Daniel R., 'In Short He is a Stupid Man': The Judges and the Arbitration Court, 1891-1928 (August 31, 2009). Turnbull Library Record, Vol. 29, pp. 59-78, 1996; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1465034. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1465034

Daniel R. Ernst (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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