February 09, 2024
Smith climate case takes tikanga to tort law
The dean of AUT’s law school says the Supreme Court’s decision that Mike Smith’s case against climate change emitters can be heard is a game changer for the legal system.
The court this week overturned a Court of Appeal ruling the case against seven of New Zealand’s largest companies had no chance of success, and sent it back to the High Court.
Professor Khylee Quince says it’s a consolidation of moves over the past decade to consider tikanga as part of the whakapapa of the legal system in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“Mike is essentially asking in this particular area of law, which is called torts, for them to incorporate our views of what is considered harmful, who can be harmed and by whom, so the idea of harm from corporate emitters and the fact that harm is inter-geneational, so it is a game changer,” she says.
Professor Quince says the Supreme Court has been very progressive with some of the best legal minds in the judiciary including Justice Sir Joe Williams, but it remains to be seen whether lower court judges will be equally progressive.