Freedom of Expression and Civility in the New Zealand Supreme Court
The use of criminal law sanctions to buttress social norms requiring civility or courtesy in public speech or action is widespread throughout the common law world. However, such sanctions inevitably limit the way in which some individuals or groups of individuals may wish to express their views on political, social or moral issues. This paper explores how the New Zealand Supreme Court has shifted the law in that country from a ‘pro civility’ approach to a more ‘libertarian’ one. It suggests that, in doing so, the court is driven by an unvoiced view of the underlying nature of contemporary New Zealand society and a concern to bring New Zealand’s regulation of expression into line with an approach seen to be prevalent in other properly democratic nations.
Keywords: Public law; Freedom of expression; Freedom of speech; Expressive freedom; New Zealand; Civility
Research Type: Journal Article