14 August 2006

NZJPIL: Ameliorating the Collateral Damage Caused by Collateral Attack in Administrative Law

One of the joys of the academy is the pleasure in seeking your own scholarly work being published. My most recent article is linked below: Dean R Knight, "Ameliorating the Collateral Damage Caused by Collateral Attack in Administrative Law" (2006) 4 NZJPIL 117 For those wanting a short preview, the abstract follows:
Collateral attack is the indirect challenge of administrative decisions, instruments or actions in civil and criminal proceedings for the purpose of determining private rights. Collateral challenges are a common way litigants seek to contest actions of the executive or other public bodies, and represent a different mechanism for the courts to exercise their supervisory jurisdiction over administrative action. The New Zealand courts have adopted a straightforward approach to the doctrine of collateral attack, generally allowing such challenges. This paper explores the principles that underlie the doctrine of collateral attack and the potential difficulties that the doctrine creates. It is argued that the courts should take a more principled approach to determining whether collateral attack should be allowed in any individual case. A number of "touchstones" are proposed to ameliorate any collateral damage to administrative law's unique character while still ensuring that people are able to challenge the invalidity of administrative instruments, decisions or actions as and when they arise in civil and criminal proceedings.

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Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"


This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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