New project on emergency preparedness

Published: 9 April 2021

Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission has commissioned Professor Janet McLean QC to write a Study Paper concerning Aotearoa New Zealand’s legal and institutional framework for pandemics and other threats. Building on the Commission’s Final Report on Emergencies (NZLC R22, 1991) the paper will undertake a preliminary evaluation of how well Aotearoa New Zealand’s laws and legal institutions anticipated the challenges presented by COVID-19, and identify any questions that ought to be considered to ensure readiness for future emergencies. Like its predecessor, it will underline the importance of standards and democratic safeguards. Its focus will be on the standing legislative regime designed for threats posed by pandemics. It will also consider matters such as the appropriate distribution of powers including the exercise of executive as opposed to legislative power in an emergency situation, the holding of elections, and the exercise of kāwanatanga by the Crown in light of te Tiriti o Waitangi |Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

Professor McLean is a professor of law at the University of Auckland with extensive expertise in constitutional and administrative law. She was appointed a QC in 2019 under the Royal Prerogative in recognition of her extraordinary and longstanding contributions to the law. She also has a longstanding connection with the Commission, having worked here as an adviser in the 1980s during the tenure of the inaugural President, Sir Owen Woodhouse.

The Commission anticipates publishing the Study Paper in mid-2022.