Public and Administrative Law

Chen Palmer provides a full range of public law services in law and policy reform, expert opinions, litigation and using the public law toolbox.

Chen Palmer’s reputation for excellence is built on our record of successful problem solving and 26 years of experience advising clients.  In addition to public law litigation, we provide expert advice on public law issues including law and policy reform, reviewing decisions by Government or statutory bodies and inquiries and reviews.

Chen Palmer’s main areas of specialist expertise are in solving legal, regulatory and policy problems with or within the Government and its various agencies, for example:

  • Decisions by the Government or statutory bodies, either by public law litigation or by using the public law toolbox, including using and complaining under the Official Information Act 1982, the Ombudsmen Act 1975, the Privacy Act 1993, the Public Audit Act 2001, the Human Rights Act 1993, and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
  • Inquiries and reviews, including Royal Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry, Ministerial Inquiries, statutory inquiries, Select Committee Inquiries, and reviews and audits by the Auditor-General.
  • Current or proposed legislation, including law reform and advocating for or against new law reform and advice on Bills currently being considered by Parliament.
  • Government policy, including advocating for policy changes where that is a more efficient outcome than law reform or litigation, and advising on ongoing policy processes.
  • Parliamentary procedure, including matters of privilege, natural justice and the Standing Orders, as well as the Regulations Review Committee.

Chen Palmer also specialise in white collar fraud and regulatory defence.

Our previous work includes:

  •  E R Bellas Limited v Karikari Charitable Trust Incorporated [2020] NZHC 2517
  • Bus and Coach Association (New Zealand) Incorporated v Attorney-General [2020] NZHC 1474
  • Department of Internal Affairs v Qian Duoduo Limited [2018] NZHC 1887.
  • Attorney-General v Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand [2016] NZCA 609.
  • New Zealand College of Midwives Inc v Attorney-General CIV-2015-485-685.
  • New Zealand Motor Caravan Association v Thames-Coromandel District Council [2014] NZHC 2016.
  • Board of Trustees of Phillipstown School v Minister of Education [2013] NZHC 2641.
  • Exide Technologies Ltd v Attorney-General [2011] NZCA 651.
  • Unison Networks Ltd v Commerce Commission [2008] 1 NZLR 42.
  • Whangamata Marina Society Inc v Attorney-General [2007] I NZLR 252.
  • Attorney-General v Unitec Institute of Technology [2006] NZCA 317.

Administrative Law

Chen Palmer advises on government decision-making and whether or not such decision-making is lawful. The team is able to give litigation advice as well as provide non-litigation options for the resolution of administrative law problems with the government.

Human Rights

As a core area of both public and employment law, Chen Palmer is involved in the cutting edge of human rights law in New Zealand and internationally. We provide employers, employees, and government agencies with advice and representation regarding their rights and obligations under human rights law, and we provide representation at the Human Rights Review Tribunal and in the High Court.

Māori Law and Treaty of Waitangi

Chen Palmer provides specialist advice to Māori organisations on:

  • Treaty Negotiations: specialist advice on historic Treaty settlement negotiations, including advice on negotiating the terms of an Agreement in Principle and a Deed of Settlement.
  • Iwi & Hapū Governance: advice on Post Settlement Governance Entities during settlement negotiations and, following settlement, advice on best-practice governance and other issues of corporate and iwi entity structuring.
  • Natural Resources Law: advice on all aspects of resource management and natural resources law, including co-governance agreements, water and geothermal issues, fisheries, forestry, petroleum and minerals, and other natural resources regulation.
  • Contemporary Treaty Claims: advice on contemporary Treaty claim issues and representation for these claims in the Waitangi Tribunal, the High Court and the higher Courts.
  • Marine and Coastal Area: the team can also advise on applications for customary rights and customary marine title orders or agreements under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.
  • Strategic Public Law and Policy Advice: advice on interacting with central and local government in the post-settlement era concerning all contemporary Māori-Crown Treaty issues, regulatory frameworks, and policy development generally.
  • Law Reform and Parliamentary Relations: advice on law reform; parliamentary process; making submissions; and working with Ministers, Government departments, Crown entities and local authorities.
  • Treaty and International Law: advice on the status of the Treaty and obligations under international law, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Our previous work includes:

  • Decision on application for an urgent hearing, WAI 745 and 1308 (2019) (Waitangi Tribunal).
  • Decision on application for an urgent hearing, WAI 745 and 1308 (2018) (Waitangi Tribunal).
  • The Kōhanga Reo claim filed by the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, WAI2336 (2012) (Waitangi Tribunal).
  • The Aotearoa Claim concerning Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, WAI 1298 (2005) (Waitangi Tribunal).
  • He Maunga Rongo: Report on the Central North Island Claims (WAI 1200, Wellington Legislation Direct, 2008) (Waitangi Tribunal).
  • Claim by James Pohio and the descendants of Ngati Mutunga; WAI 65 (1988 to 2004). I was counsel for the claimants.
  • The Wai 45 (Muriwhenua) record of inquiry. The hearing was held from 2 to 7 September 2012 at Kareponia Marae, Awanui, and on 18 and 19 September at the Environment Court in Auckland. https://waitangitribunal.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/WT-Ngati-Kahu-Remedies-Report.pdf

Information Law

Chen Palmer has extensive experience advising individuals, as well as business and organisations on how to collect, retain, share and use personal information and how this overlaps with other information law obligations.

Our expertise includes:

  • Advice on use of the Official Information Act and Local Government Official Information and Meeting Act to gain access to information held by state sector agencies and statements of reasons for decisions or recommendation that affect individuals or companies.
  • Advice on how to protect confidentiality of personal or commercially sensitive information provided to state sector agencies.
  • Advice on how to remedy unreasonable, unethical or unlawful use of information about individuals or companies in decisions that affect them.

Privacy Law

Our lawyers are experienced in giving clients advice on complex privacy law issues and providing representation in Privacy Act complaints. We give advice to privacy officers on their obligations, draft privacy policies for organisations, and manage workplace disputes over privacy issues.

Our expertise includes:

  • Compliance with the Privacy Act 2020 and industry specific Codes of Practice;
  • Complaints to the Privacy Commissioner and claims to the Human Rights Review Tribunal;
  • Civil claims for tortious invasion of privacy; and
  • Information sharing and matching regimes.

Charities Law

Chen Palmer has significant expertise in advising charities on a range of public law issues. We can assist charitable entities with all aspects of their operations including registration, funding applications, working with Internal Affairs who oversee charities and the Inland Revenue Department.

Many of the issues facing charitable entities back directly into our specialist public law expertise, including our expertise in working with government departments, and our expertise in working with public entities in the health sector, which purchase services from charitable entities.

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