29 September 2006

Donations to political parties and "bribery"

> NZHerald: Call for police to investigate offer to Maori Party > DomPost: Cash offer to Maori Party 'not illegal' I think we need to take care before we baldly conclude that the offer to make a donation to the Maori party on the basis that they support Labour as the government amounts to bribery. Section 103(2) of the Crimes Act sets out the offence:
s103 Corruption and bribery of member of Parliament (1) ... (2) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who corruptly gives or offers or agrees to give any bribe to any person with intent to influence any member of Parliament in respect of any act or omission by him in his capacity as a member of Parliament. (3) ...

"Bribe" is defined in section 99 as:

Bribe means any money, valuable consideration, office, or employment, or any benefit, whether direct or indirect:

I haven't got time to develop the argument but:

- There's a difference between concluding that such offers are politically objectionable (controls might be transparency and ultimately voter response at the ballot box) and that such offers triggers criminal liability.

- Interestingly, the home of the origins Westminister system, the UK, does not have the same criminal liability.

- There's a need to reconcile the offer with offers from groups like, say, an anti-alcohol lobby groups who might say to a party, "we'll make a donation to your party if you support raising the drinking age; but if you don't, we won't".

- There's a wee bit of literature and jurisprudence on the issue but I haven't got time to go through it. Two goods reads though:

> AG of Ceylon v de Livera (a case under a similar section) > Zellick, "Bribery of Members of Parliament and the Criminal Law" [1979] Public Law 31 (on the UK situation, remembering there is no specific offence)

No comments:

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.

Course Archive

Search Course

  © Blogger template 'Photoblog' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP