Supreme Court Registrar Reviewed for Failure to Record Judgments

A Wellington man has filed a Judicial Review against the New Zealand Supreme Court Registrar for alleged rule of law breaches in failing to publicly record rulings of New Zealand’s highest court.


Mr Malcolm Rabson claims his application to recall a Supreme Court judgment refusing to grant leave on the ground he should instead seek recall of the subject Court of Appeal judgment was dismissed by email, from a generic email address.  No judge(s) was identified as making the ruling.   No reasons were given.   The Supreme Court Registrar has refused to publicly record the anonymous and unreasoned judgment.


Mr Rabson’s judicial review pleads the Registrar had similarly failed to record dismissals of formal applications to New Zealand’s highest court by at least four other appellants in the last 18 months.


The recall application which was anonymously and secretly dismissed had pleaded it was an abuse of the Supreme Court’s function to refuse to allow appeal against a ruling by the full bench of the Court of Appeal after the Supreme Court expressly recognised that ruling was unlawful.  The Court of Appeal had ordered costs against Mr Rabson in respect to a hearing after the bench conceded Mr Rabson had no standing to attend that hearing.  The Supreme Court nonetheless dismissed appeal against that judgment, reasoning,  “This is not a matter of general or public importance as it arises out of the particular facts of Mr Rabson’s case. Further, there is no risk of a miscarriage of justice as Mr Rabson has the ability to apply for a recall of the Court of Appeal’s decision.”


Recall is an extraordinary remedy with a higher legal threshold.  Mr Rabson alleged the Surpeme Court actions breached his right to the statutory remedy provided by the Supreme Court Act 2003 and were made to keep secret the fact three senior judges of the Court of Appeal, including new Supreme Court Justice Mark O’Regan, breached elementary law so as to avoid public embarrassment.  He says the public importance lies in the precedent of a full bench Court of Appeal judgment declaring parties recognised to have no standing and unable to be heard can still be subject to judges’ orders of costs in New Zealand.

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Why This Site is Necessary

The New Zealand Supreme Court was established by statute only in 2003. It replaced the Privy Council in England as New Zealand's highest court.

Two years before its establishment, the New Zealand Court of Appeal was found by the Privy Council in Taito v Q [2002] UKPC 15 to have engaged in systemic abuses of due process by dismissing as many as 1,500 appeals on an ex-parte basis over the previous 10 years, sometimes on the signature of a court registrar - dismissals often given only in handwritten notations on the court file.

The public have been told these abuses have ceased despite the Court of Appeal judges found culpable for these due process breaches being the first appointees to the new Supreme Court. Only by seeing the public court records which these judges have been hiding will we truly know.