The May 1996 edition of International Financial Law Review (see page 50) reported that the New Zealand government planned to abolish the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The government has recently announced that it has scrapped this plan.
Retention of the right of appeal is a consequence of the new mixed member proportional (MMP) voting system which was introduced for the October 1996 parliamentary election. Previous elections were conducted under the first past the post (FPP) voting system.
Coalition government is expected to become the norm under MMP as it is unlikely that any single political party will gain a sufficient majority to govern by itself. The new government formed following the October 1996 election is a coalition between the National and New Zealand First parties.
The plans to abolish the right of appeal to the Privy Council have been abandoned because the National party does not have the support of its coalition partner, New Zealand First. The about-turn has been welcomed by certain business and Maori interests — two groups affected by decisions of the New Zealand Court of Appeal that have been overturned by the Privy Council in recent times.
Denis Clifford and Chris Maher
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