The Courts are Open
New Zealand Law Journal, No. 13, 1976
3 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2013 Last revised: 23 Feb 2015
Date Written: 1976
Easy access to the Courts for the speedy resolution of disputes lies at the heart of our system of justice. While such a principle seems so obvious that it is usually taken for granted, it has been both explicated and buttressed by the recent decision of Beattie J in Fitzgerald v Muldoon. The plaintiff in that case argued that although the monetary value of the case was minor it was one of serious constitutional importance. The learned Judge found that if the action was adjourned until retrospective legislation was passed, the action would be stifled at birth, and that individuals should have the right to have their case heard. Such a decision demonstrates that the members of the judiciary are not prepared to resile from their role as the third branch of government. The deference paid to our Judges does not stem from their fancy titles, their striped pants or their homburg hats. It stems from an appreciation of their historic constitutional role. To maintain not only our deference but also our respect they must exercise those powers appropriate to the judicial branch.
Keywords: Fitzgerald v Muldoon, constitution, separation of powers, judiciary
JEL Classification: K19, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation