Monday, May 25, 2009

Short in trumps

There are times when it's a struggle to say anything interesting about the final resolution of a disputed point of law.

"How sour sweet music is, when time is broke and no proportion kept ..."

isn't quite it, yet it almost is.

Overall, five judges decided against the appellant (six if you count the first instance court where the point was taken for granted without argument), and four decided it for the appellant. These four, being the majority of the highest court, determined the result.

The Supreme Court decision is Davies v Police [2009] NZSC 47 (25 May 2009). The point is narrow and peculiar to New Zealand statutory law. It is about whether an order for payment of reparation at sentencing can include an award to cover a top up to the amount of compensation to which the victim is entitled under legislation which provides a scheme for that but only to the extent of 80% of the actual loss.

But enough of that. Anyone keen enough to read the decision will note an error in para 21: the sentence

"It [the Court of Appeal] thought that the legislative history made it clear that s 32(5) [of the Sentencing Act 2002] was concerned only to exclude losses not compensated under the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act, and there was no basis for excluding reparation for losses not able to be compensated."

is obviously wrong (delete the first "not"). Stop the presses, alert the Court! Yawn.

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