Finnigan V NZRFU
Terms in this set (12)
The main social implications of the case
-There is now a precedent decision that could give standing for a case against a sports team touring an unpopular location.
-The courts can judge a private entity as a public one based on ideas of national interest.
-Parliamentary supremacy is unlimited but there will always be political consequences.
-Judges are far less inhibited by public or political opinion, and thus have fewer consequences in decision making.
Parliamentary Supremacy in Finnigan V NZRFU
-Parliament stopped short of making a statute. Could have quite easily passed a statute saying they can NOT tour SA. However, they would have been subjected to significant political backlash by controlling who can and can't leave NZ
-Politicians rely on votes and support from the public which acts as a check and balance against their power. MPs couldn't risk losing all support by making a bad law.
-Parliament saw this as a private matter that they weren't prepared to intervene
-The Government of NZ could only "discourage" the 1985 proposed tour to South Africa, however this was in no way binding upon the NZRFU
Separation of Powers (Judicial Independence) in Finnigan V NZRFU
-Shows how the Judiciary were independent. The judges prepared to go a little bit further to protect what they consider as the interests of the public.
-Due to judicial independence; judges suffer far less from controversial decisions. To a large extent the only balance against one ruling is the ruling of a superior judge. This allows them huge amounts of political freedom and is supposed to ensure justice. However, it can be argued that in this case the judges refused to follow precedent when assessing standing and did so according to their individual belief of national importance and personal biases about the issue.
-Justice Cook was the judge at the Court of Appeal. He is an activist judge, and in the mind of Cooke the chain of contracts was all that was needed to say there was standing. However, Cooke was prepared to go a little bit further and say that there was standing. Finnigan lucky and fortunate to hear the case in front of him in comparison to other judges who may be more strict in their interpretations of the law
Facts of the case
-NZRFU announced an All Black tour of SA on 17th April 1985, following an invitation by SA.
-The Labour government strongly suggested to the NZRFU not to send the All Blacks team as Maori players would be unable to attend due to SA's apartheid regime.
-Finnigan and Recorden who were grass roots rugby players took a case to the High Court saying that the NZRFU had breached its own rules, asking for an injunction to stop its own tour.
-On first instance it was ruled that the Plaintiffs didn't have standing, however, they were granted leave to the Court of Appeal and in this case they showed that there was a chain of contracts linked to the NZRFU so they did have standing.
-The case went back to the high court, whom were this time prepared to grant an injunction to prevent the tour to South Africa.
Reasons encouraging the NZRFU to tour
-NZ and SA had a strong rivalry in Rugby so it was thought that the tour would benefit the sport in NZ
-It was a long-standing NZRFU decision to "respect" the sensitivities of their hosts by not selecting any Maori players for tours to South Africa.
Rising tide of protest
-1960: "No Maoris, no tour" campaign, but NZRFU continued policy of excluding Maori
-1960's: United Nations sanction against SA
-NZ had signed onto the Gleneagles agreement which was a pledge to discourage sporting engagement with SA because of their apartheid regime
Finnigan and Recorden's standing
-Only people with special interest affected by a decision can bring court proceedings
-Had no contact with NZRFU, but linked to union by chain of contacts
-Had genuine interest in whether NZRFU acted against its own objects of 'promoting, fostering & developing the game of rugby'
Why the tour may break NZRFU objective of promoting the sport of Rugby in NZ
-NZRFU had explicitly disregarded recent history and appeals from the Government
-1981 tour was a disaster for the country with mass disobedience and over 300,000 protesters on the street every match day
-Therefore 1985 tour to SA may NOT benefit rugby in NZ
-NZRFU should reconsider its decision in the light of all its objects to make a lawful decision
Court of Appeal's decision
-NZRFU technically a private sports body but its decisions have analogies with public law
-Decision affects New Zealand's international standing
-Higher obligation on NZRFU than ordinary private bodies
-Decision important to rugby and to NZ
-Union must specifically consider interests of NZ rugby as a whole, not just the promotion of All Black tours
Interim injunction-High Court
-Interim injunctions are urgent orders to preserve status quo until full hearing for injunction can be heard
-Balance of convenience and hardship as between the parties are matters for the judge's discretion
-It was for the NZRFU (not the court) to make the final decision, but it had to be a lawful decision
Role of the courts in controversial cases
-Different judges reached different decisions after hearing the same legal arguments about 'standing'
-Law in some circumstances is quite uncertain
-Should courts have intervened when Government and Parliament refused to do so
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