Launch of Judicial Review: A New Zealand Perspective 4th Edition

On 14 August 2018 Barristers.Comm was delighted to host the launch of “Judicial Review: A New Zealand Perspective 4th Edition” written by former member Dr Graham Taylor. It was a lovely evening full of Wellington’s finest public lawyers and more. The Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias launched the new edition and addressed Chambers as below:

“The publication of a new edition of a standard text does not entail the anxiety of the launch of a first edition and since Graham’s text was audacious indeed when it appeared in 1981, he and Rosaleen must have suffered a few moments of anxiety.  They were dissipated however when Sir Robin Cooke delivered his verdict in the foreword. that the great majority of the opinions expressed in the book passed the test of Wednesbury reasonableness.  That must have been a relief.

Jeremy Waldron once urged us to pay closer attention to “our own legal and ideological resources” in New Zealand.  We have been fortunate indeed in the scholars who have provided us with significant texts in law, starting with John Salmond.  In 1907 he said he had endeavoured to set forth the principles of the law of torts with as much precision, coherence and system as the subject admits of”.  The cautious note sounded here is apt in judicial review as it was in tort law.  The untidiness of the caselaw does not admit too much precision.

Change and continuing adjustment of competing interests in shifting social circumstances are constants for anyone working in public law and in particular judicial review.  The cases that seemed to be bold only yesterday are now very old fashioned.  If we are not to lose out way in isolated and perhaps arbitrary solutions some overview is desperately needed even if coherency and grand design is too much to expect given the material he has to work with.  A text as comprehensive and careful as this is a lot to be grateful for.  It is essential practical assistance to anyone who tries to keep up.

Graham’s original 1981 text was an early trailblazer in a stream of important legal publications in New Zealand.  The fourth edition continues the ambitious of providing a practical and concise book on judicial review, which provides a “New Zealand perspective”.

It is mind-blowingly current.  I think I saw a 2018 case cited and there are several 2017 decisions.  Important chapters on scope and intensity of review and the role of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act have been substantially rewritten.  Since I sometimes think that the Supreme Court does nothing but judicial review, there has been much labour involved.

Although the work, like its earlier editions, claims to avoid prefer practical treatment of the subject rather than theoretical development, that is too self-deprecating.  There is theory here too, as is inevitable given the author’s own considerable scholarship and this is not work that sticks to the parish pump.  It is positioned within the world of ideas and cases in judicial review from all the common law jurisdictions.  Particularly valuable are the insights into Australian caselaw – something that those unfamiliar with the Australian legal order usually get very badly wrong.  So it is helpful indeed that Graham has been able to build on the years he spent in Canberra at the Administrative Review Council.  It means that he is able to make accessible to a New Zealand audience the valuable insights provided by Australian public law and its great exponents such as Sir Gerald Brennan, which otherwise might be avoided by the timid.

Judicial review is not itself for the timid.  Graham identifies the “tension and subtlety” wherever judicial review “does not exist in a legislatively approved environment”.  The stakes are high.  So a sure guide is valuable indeed and helps to keep the constitution on track in our system.

After 4 editions, one might think that it would be pardonable if the thrill of the chase was no longer evident and a magisterial calm had been achieved in a work of mature scholarship.  But not a bit of it.  Graham says that his views are still “maturing” and that the maturing process is still incomplete.  He plans in the next few years to undertake empirical research into the relationship between appeals and judicial review.

The first edition was work of considerable audacity.  It was patterned on no then-existing model.  As is inevitable in a New Zealand text, particularly one based on common law, it required wide comparative range and considerable stamina.  Only a work of real merit however could have stayed the distance into four editions.  It would be wrong not to identify that a principal reason why practitioners and judges keep going back to Taylor is because of the commitment, hard work put into keeping it current.  But because also of the original perspective of an author who knows his subject inside out.

After 27 years in print, it is good to see that the text is in excellent health.  There will be a number of people who have made sure that is so, especially the current editor, Daisy Coles and the editor of the previous three editions, Rosaleen Taylor.  But I know all here will want to join with me in expressing congratulations to Graham himself and our appreciation to him for a text that makes our lives easier.  We look forward to many happy returns in editions to come.”