Recent achievements

The work we do at Crown Law is wide-ranging and varied. To give you a sense of what we do here, have a look at some of our recent achievements. 

We also reported these in our 2023 Annual Report. You can read the full Report here.


Strategic Legal Advice

During 2022/23, we provided a broad range of legal advice to government agencies and ministers, much of which has been strategic, system-wide advice. Key areas of work have included advice on government decision making, especially in the context of severe weather recovery, outcomes of inquiries and steps to implement their recommendations, assisting the government at an operational level, climate change decision making and advice on numerous aspects of criminal justice process and proposed policy changes. We also delivered a range of strategic and system-wide legal advice products on a one-to-many basis. These are subject to privilege but cover legal topics relevant to all departments and include quick reference legal guides.


Crown legal risk management

Crown Law reports twice a year to the Attorney-General on significant and systemic legal risks. Working with departments, we identify the emerging and existing legal risks that may affect government. Management approaches are developed to address emerging risks. Crown Law also provides the Attorney- General and other ministers with regular reports on specific themes of relevance to government priorities and ministerial portfolios.


Climate change

Climate change is a dynamic and rapidly developing area of law. There continues to be an increase in litigation against government decision makers based on concerns about the sufficiency of the government’s climate change mitigation efforts. This increase reflects wider global trends,15 which show an increasing number of cases across more jurisdictions. Similar patterns have also emerged in litigation against private sector entities. Climate litigation is growing, with litigants challenging government action (or alleged inaction) on climate change using diverse strategies.


Severe weather emergency recovery

In early 2023, severe weather events in the North Island, including Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle, and the heavy rain events over the upper North Island caused widespread damage to the natural and built environment, including land, waterways, biodiversity, fisheries, infrastructure, businesses and homes. There was a risk that the pace of the recovery from the severe weather events could be constrained or prohibited by the regulatory environment in place at the time.

Accordingly, it was decided there was a need for legislation to enable urgent measures to support recovery. To assist with the recovery, the Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Act 2023 (SWERL Act) was enacted. This created a mechanism permitting the Governor-General to make Orders in Council on the recommendation of the relevant minister to exempt, modify or extend existing legislation to support recovery.

The Order in Council process is being completed in tranches to enable the efficient processing of proposals. Crown Law is working closely with agencies as proposals are developed to ensure proposed Orders in Council fit within the SWERL Act’s empowering provision.


Russia sanctions

Crown Law has been involved with other agencies in supporting the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)’s Russia Sanctions Taskforce through enactment of the Russia Sanctions Act 2022, regulations made under the Act and consideration of specific cases.


Royal Commission of Inquiry into Lessons Learned from Aotearoa New Zealand’s Response to COVID-19 That Should Be Applied in Preparation for a Future Pandemic

A Royal Commission has been established to prepare New Zealand for future pandemics through lessons learned from COVID-19. The purpose of the Royal Commission is to strengthen New Zealand’s preparedness for, and response to, any future pandemic by identifying those lessons learned from New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 that should be applied in preparation for any future pandemic.

The Royal Commission is intended to be a holistic, future-oriented review of New Zealand’s experience of the pandemic. The inquiry will make recommendations on measures to best prepare New Zealand to respond to any future pandemics. Crown Law provided advice to Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) in relation to the establishment of the inquiry and will provide information to the inquiry in relation to its role in the COVID-19 response.


Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions

The Royal Commission has now concluded its public hearings with the final public hearing relating to the Crown (the State Institutional Response public hearing) held in August 2022. The Royal Commission must deliver its final report and recommendations by 28 March 2024 (an extension from the previous deadline of 30 June 2023).

Crown Law continues to cooperate with the Royal Commission by responding to information requests when asked to do so. In addition, Crown Law continues to support agencies’ work on the implementation of the recommendations made in the Royal Commission’s Redress Report issued in December 2021, including in relation to recommendations about the reform of limitation legislation and the Accident Compensation Scheme