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Court case begins to decide if lockdown was lawful

Police manning a COVID-19 checkpoint a few days after lockdown started in March. Image: Daniel Hines/SunLive.

The High Court in Wellington is hearing a case on whether the level 4 lockdown and closing all but essential businesses was lawful.

The judicial review is being brought by lawyer Andrew Borrowdale against Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield challenging the legality of the COVID-19 lockdown rules imposed by the government.

Andrew argues Dr Bloomfield exceeded his powers under the law in issuing a series of orders under the Health Act in March and April closing all but "essential businesses" and making everyone stay at home - with few exceptions. Both indoor and outdoor public gatherings were banned, and people had to follow social distancing rules

The lawyer claims the initial announcement of lockdown restrictions told people they must stay at home when this was not actually required by the law at the time. This is alleged to be unlawful under the Bill of Rights.

Andrew argues orders issued by Ashley were unlawful as he could only require specific people to stay at home during an epidemic rather than the whole country.

He also claims that giving "unnamed" Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) officials the power to decide which businesses were "essential" and would be allowed to stay open was unlawful and could not have been delegated in the way it was.

Andrew wants the orders quashed.

Constitutional and parliamentary law expert Professor Claudia Geiringer says the lockdown powers were "some of the most extensive coercive powers ever to be exercised in this country's history".

The Law Society - which represents 15,000 lawyers - will provide written and oral submissions as a neutral party in the case.

It says the proceedings were very important to the operation of the rule of law and the administration of justice and were of significant public interest.

Because the seriousness and importance of the case three judges will preside including Chief High Court Judge Justice Susan Thomas. Usually judicial review cases are heard by just one judge.

Andrew Borrowdale worked for more than 10 years in the Parliamentary Counsel office which drafts the government's bills and legislation.

He was going to make his case in court himself but now has a lawyer.

Neither Ashley Bloomfield nor the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be called as witnesses. Bloomfield's evidence will be given by affidavit.

The case is expected to last three days.

Hamish Cardwell/RNZ.

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9 Comments
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I wonder

Posted on 29-07-2020 18:33 | By lpm67

Is he a disgruntled ex-employee?

Pointless.

Posted on 27-07-2020 17:05 | By morepork

This is a pointless law suit. It is fait accompli and the results have shown it was not only justified, but succeeded on a scale seen nowhere else in the World. I see it as a cynical ploy by the Law community to generate some revenue. A State of Emergency was declared and properly sanctioned. If it turns out that the actions taken by Dr. Blumfeld were unlawful, then common sense would dictate that the Law is an ass and should be changed. Blumfeld deserves commendation, not castigation.

Hear hear

Posted on 27-07-2020 16:24 | By Mommatum

I couldn’t agree more Womby. When I look at the devastation being wrought by Covid-19 overseas including the State of Victoria in Australia I am even more thankful we went into lockdown. You would have to wonder at the mentality of someone especially an educated individual who would make this precautionary measure the stuff of a law suit. I suspect Andrew Borrowdale’s motives are less about The Bill Of Rights and more about making a name for himself at other people’s expense. Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Jacinda Ardern saved our lives by making what I agree was an unprecedented call his included. Perhaps he should’ve reflected in that before rushing with indecent haste to further burden out logjammed court system with his frivolous and vexatious lawsuit. Shame on him.

smack him under the ear and send him home

Posted on 27-07-2020 13:27 | By CC8

Kiwis roll up their sleeves and get it done,we do not want nor do we need these pointy nose beaks taking over with their self righteous bull. What a stupid pedantic waste of time and money. If indeed he is correct real Kiwis DON"T CARE. The actions saved us from the same issues every other country has. Go away sir and hide your nose in a book.What is wrong with you, did you get the sack from your cushy government job?

WHAT!

Posted on 27-07-2020 11:23 | By

Is this guy for real! A PC do-gooder that needs a reality check. Hopefully this will give it to him. What an utter waste of time, money and resources. Let’s backlog the courts for another 3 days and take 3 Judges out of circulation while this guy hopefully gets his head around the potential saving of hundreds of lives including that of his own and his family. As Womby says, send him to Melbourne or New York for a look at reality. Although he will gave to go into lockdown when he comes back . . .

Would

Posted on 27-07-2020 11:09 | By Merlin

Would this fellow rather we had more deaths from this pandemic?

Fingers crossed

Posted on 27-07-2020 10:30 | By

Fingers crossed that the Court makes a sensible ruling on this and says that the lock down was legal. I totally agree with Womby. So, if this clown who is wasting the Court’s time, wants to see what happens when people are allowed to continue with life as normal - take a hard look at the other countires around the world, and like Womby said - Melbourne and New York - which provide ecellent examples of what happens when things go wrong.

Who pays

Posted on 27-07-2020 10:02 | By Angels

Who pays for all this craziness ?? We are becoming a granny state . This should be paid for by the complainant if the Nz gov,t is found to be in the legal Limits. Not paid by the public. It would stop stupidity like this,

Lock this fool up

Posted on 27-07-2020 09:02 | By

We are perhaps the only country in the world that is able to go about living normally at this present time. Don’t let him waste the courts time and money. Send him to Melbourne or New York etc for a reality check