Several Members have written in and asked for simple definitions of the terms “the common law” and “natural justice”. Simple definitions are difficult and cannot fit on bumper stickers although we saw a T-shirt once which said - “Does Natural Justice Mean Topless Judges?”
The Short Answer
The common law is a major component of the legal system of those countries based on the English history of binding court precedent. The laws in New Zealand are a combination of Acts of Parliament, statutory regulations, local body bylaws and decisions of our courts defining those laws. All English law in force in that country in 1840 is also part of our law unless modified or rejected by a subsequent act of Parliament in New Zealand.
An Act of Parliament is passed or made by, of course, Parliament. Acts of Parliament cannot deal with all the detail of a particular law, such as the size of stop signs or the definitions of netting in fisheries laws and similar matters.
An Act will usually give delegated authority to Cabinet, through the Governor General, to pass more detailed regulations or rules relating to that Act.
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