New Zealand Law/System/Baigents Case

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Simpson v AG [1994] 3 NZLR 667 [aka Baigent’s Case]

  • The plaintiffs alleged that police officers had persisted in bad faith with the search of the late Mrs Baigent's house when they knew that her property had been mistakenly named in a search warrant issued for a drug dealers' house.
  • The plaintiffs sued on the grounds the police breached section 21 of the Bill of Rights Act, the right to be secure against unreasonable search and arrest.

Held, Court of Appeal

  1. The fact that the Bill of Rights did not include a specific remedies section did not mean Parliament did not intend to compensate for breaches of the Act;
  2. The Bill of Rights had to be interpreted in light of New Zealand's obligations under the Intl Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  3. The Courts can award remedies for breaches of the Bill of Rights;
  4. The liability of breaches of the Act fell on the Crown.