Craig, Whale Oil and weaponising of the court

Colin Craig has won his appeal against a judgment in which from Judge Mary Beth Sharp had ruled his copyright claim on a ‘poem’ as “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court”.

NZ City:  Craig wins appeal in poem lawsuit

The former Conservative Party leader has won his appeal of a decision to throw the case out as “vexatious”, despite those opposing him saying he’s had enough court time.

Mr Craig’s lawyers this week appealed that decision in the High Court, saying he should have been cut a “bit more slack” because he wasn’t a legal expert and had run the case himself.

Justice Mark Woolford has now allowed the appeal, saying “Mr Craig’s claim cannot be seen as groundless”.

“Even if Mr Craig’s primary motivation was to protect his reputation, I am of the view that his copyright claim should still be determined on its merits,” he said.

“He is entitled to have his day in court.”

Justice Woolford also noted Mr Craig viewed himself as “a poet of some literary merit”.

To me that’s a very dubious claim but Craig’s view may be pertinent in a legal sense.

Whale Oil has quoted this article at length but doesn’t appear to have attributed it to the source.

‘Whaleoil staff’ also offers substantial detail and opinion on a case before the court. They again seem to be trying to prove their case to their readers in advance of the court hearing it.

Of particular interest to me:

It is therefore a good time to point out the elephant in the room.  In my view, Mr Craig does not consider winning necessary.  To him, grinding down all his opponents in a never-ending series of court events is enough of an achievement.   While he has millions to spend, he knows his opponents do not.

That may or may not be Craig’s aim, it is simply speculation.

Colin Craig currently has 12 current defamation/copyright cases on the go.  All related to one originating incident.  The stepping down of Rachel MacGregor.

Such weaponising of the court system is indeed  “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court”.  And treating the copyright case as a stand-alone event totally divorced from anything else is a serious error in legal judgement.

I don’t know what is motivating Craig but there are indications it has been a mixture of things, including defending his reputation (that is in tatters as a result of this saga), and of holding an attack blog to account.

If Craig has been weaponising the court system and is indeed  “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court” then I have some sympathy with the targets of his legal actions.

But that sympathy is somewhat mixed, given the apparent hypocrisy from Whaleoil here.

Someone who appears to have an association to someone with a close association with Whale oil posted a comment here two days ago under the pseudonym ‘Albert’, which included:

I think you will find defamation doesn’t work that way. The last few months have been a free for all in your comments against Slater with some really defamatory things said…

I have been careful to moderate anything that I think could be at risk of being considered defamatory.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Slater didn’t task that mouth breather Belt to collect everything ready for when he beats Colin.

You might find third party discovery a real bitch…

That sounds like a threat.

Much and all as I loathe Slater, he is that cunning to sit an wait and collect months of data. The publisher is Yournz not the commenters.

I’m not a lawyer but Slater is nasty when cornered…and if he has money then I doubt he’d hold back going after someone like you who is a soft target.

Freedom of speech Rights etc won’t stop him…and he will grind you down. He’s that much of an assholes.

There are some ridiculous statements here.

The “mouth breather belt” and “loathe Slater” references need to be taken with a grain of salt, self criticism is a common ploy to try to disguise a source.

I think there is a clear implication from someone probably close to Slater that if Slater gets award a big payout in his case against Craig he will use that to finance vexatious legal actions. He has already been involved in some against me, unsuccessfully, so “soft target” may be a misjudgement.

It will look highly hypocritical if anything comes of this, but I think it is more likely to be empty threats in yet another attempt to try to shut me up.

I think that weaponising of the court system is indeed  “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court” – and with record of this already happening against me, further attempts would be seen as a continuation of an obsession with trying to shut down any criticism and holding to account.

I don’t agree with some of what Craig has done and some of the measures Craig has taken, but I think his attempts to hold a dirty blog to account have some merit.

NOTE: I will moderate anything that I think steps over any lines. As usual I will allow rights of reply but I will have low tolerance for deceit in pseudonyms and attempts by sock puppets to plant ‘incriminating’ comments.

Blocking vexatious legal actions and other improvements

The Judicature Modernisation Bill, an omnibus bill that aims to simplify and modernise the law around how courts operate, is set to pass it’s final stage in Parliament today.

NZ Herald explains:

The main provisions stem from the Law Commission’s report on its review of the Judicature Act of 1908 – one of New Zealand’s oldest statutes still in force.

Most are not new, but are described with more modern language in an attempt to provide greater clarity.

The headline change – Courts to get powers to block vexatious legal action:

Orders will restrict people from starting or continuing civil proceedings that may have “limited, extended or general effect”.

The High Court will be able to issue three progressively stronger orders, and lower courts will be able to make similar but less restrictive orders.

The Government says this will provide greater flexibility for dealing with a small group of problem litigants who use up court time to pursue “meritless” action.

Access to justice and to legal remedies is very important, but this can be too easily abused by those using and misusing legal processes as a weapon.

Having been the target of a small group of ‘problem litigants’, and having discussed the limited power of the Court to prevent them from clogging up courts as a means of attacking people and trying to gag people with lawyers, it’s good to see this being addressed.

Labour will support the Bill at it’s third reading today but opposed requiring judges to retire at age 70. Jacinda Ardern said this was clear discrimination under the Human Rights Act but it must have passed that test to have got to it’s final stage.

However, the Government believes a retirement age is a necessary safeguard, which other countries have put in law.

Labour did succeed in changing the legislation to explicitly commit to parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law. It will support the legislation during third reading tomorrow.

Other notable provisions in the 23 bill omnibus:

  • Allowing the use of electronic processes by courts. Currently, some activities such as the filing of documents can be legally performed using paper-based formats
  •  Improving the sharing of court information such as protection or restraining orders through information-sharing agreements permitted under the Privacy Act.
  • A new judicial panel will be set-up in the High Court to hear particular types of commercial cases.
  • Increasing the monetary limit of the District Court’s civil jurisdiction from $200,000 to $350,000.
  • Requiring final written judgments to be published online.

It will be for good final written judgments to be available to the public. I requested one recently and was told it would require the permission of the judge, I would have to explain why I wanted it, and I would have to pay for it. Open justice should mean open access to all judgments that aren’t subject to suppression orders.