Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission commissioned Professor Janet McLean KC 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 undertakes a preliminary evaluation of how well Aotearoa New Zealand’s laws and legal institutions anticipated the challenges presented by COVID-19, and identifies any questions that ought to be considered to ensure readiness for future emergencies. Like its predecessor, it underlines the importance of standards and democratic safeguards.
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 Study Paper was published in November 2022.
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Media Release | 11 November 2022
Media Release | 9 April 2021
The Legal Framework for Emergencies in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZLC SP23, 2022)
This Study Paper was written for the Commission by Professor Janet McLean KC. It provides a wide-ranging review of the legal framework for emergencies. It is written in three parts addressing changes to Aotearoa New Zealand’s background constitutional norms since the 1991 report, the general principles that should apply to emergency legislation identified by the Regulations Review Committee, and the existing standing legal regime for emergencies.
The Paper concludes that while there is never a good time to write emergency laws, we have an important opportunity to learn from recent experience and better prepare the legal powers and constraints necessary for emergencies in the future.