New Zealand has this month been ranked sixth in the world – out of 102 countries – in the World Justice Project’s 2015 Rule of Law Index.
Since the signing of the Magna Carta – which was commemorated
last week – the rule of law remains a fundamental driver of our society, according to the New Zealand Law Society.
“It was really the foundation of parliamentary sovereignty and the concept of the rule of law – which is the principle that no one is above the law,” the society’s Rule of Law Committee convenor Austin Forbes QC said.
All New Zealanders have the right to challenge decisions and actions of the government, officials and other agencies through the courts, he said.
“They can be confident that if it is decided that a decision is contrary to the law or has been made without taking all contributing factors into account, their rights will be upheld.
“This is almost taken for granted in our country, although there is no room for complacency.”
The Law Society also played a special role, and the legal profession has always had an important place in the workings of government, he said.
“The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 says it is a fundamental obligation of the New Zealand Law Society to uphold the rule of law and facilitate the administration of justice.
“This requirement extends to every lawyer who practises in New Zealand.”
Very few, if any, lawyers’ regulatory organisations in other countries have this role imposed by statute, Forbes said.
“It is a tribute to our system of government and an important safeguard of a concept which had its beginnings 800 years ago in a meadow at Runnymede, near Windsor in England.
“New Zealanders can be assured that the New Zealand Law Society will continue to monitor the impact of any legislation or actions which might threaten the rule of law in this country.”