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Thursday, April 11, 2013

EQC Truths and the Court injunction

Media law specialist Steven Price (Media Law Journal blogger) has written an article on the decision to grant EQC an interim injunction against those having copies of the EQC spread sheet.

His commentary includes observations on areas the judge might have considered but didn’t: “But I am shocked that the court has failed to address basic aspects of the law.” This failure includes the relatively low threshold used to decide EQC had a case, absence of any consideration of the issue of public interest,  or the blogger’s rights under the Bill of Rights. These things are more articulately, delicately and knowledgably put on Steven Price’s blog here. A link to a copy of the judgement can be found in the article.

An aspect not covered in his commentary is, to my mind, a sinister aspect of the judgement. At [24] (1) of the judgement (at the end) it is ordered that the blogger file and serve an affidavit as to whether she or he “has or has had in his or her possession any information obtained directly or indirectly from EQC about identifiable individuals other than him or herself;”

The use of the words “any information” makes this a fishing expedition, designed to go beyond the current specific issue and require disclosure of material well outside the issue at hand. In this context “identifiable individuals” is not defined, and could be considered to extend beyond EQC claimants (e.g. information provided about incompetent or dishonest staff, doubtful contractors).

A useful blunt instrument for EQC and Minister Brownlee to apply. If this was judge’s intention then it has to be seen as a sinister development, if it was unintended then the judge has been careless.

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