Patriating appeals : New Zealand's withdrawal from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
In 1900, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was the final court of appeal
for one-quarter of the world’s people residing in the British Empire, with the
notable exception of those who lived in the British Isles. Despite the major exodus
from the Judicial Committee’s jurisdiction in the two decades following the end of
the Second World War, it was not until the late 1960s before the possibility of New
Zealand’s departure was raised. A sporadic debate then ensued.
In 1986, the Government initiated the first of three formal attempts to end New
Zealand appeals to the Judicial Committee. Each attempt was very contentious,
and it was not until 2003 when this objective was achieved. This thesis examines
the ending of New Zealand appeals to the Judicial Committee. It identifies a series
of debates, involving common themes and contrasting political positions, over
more than 35 years. It also identifies changing legal features, which provide an
important backdrop to the debates. It concludes with an assessment of why this
process took so long.