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Consultation Ruling


Court of Appeal Decision Wellington Airport


Hokianga Report

Appendix One

Wellington International Airport Limited and others v Air New Zealand [1993] 1 NZLR 671, at p. 675. Judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered by McKay J quoting McGechan J in the High Court in Air New Zealand and others v Wellington International Airport Limited and others, HC, Wellington, CP 403-91, Jan 6, 1992:

"Consultation must allow sufficient time, and a genuine effort must be made. It is a reality not a charade. The concept is grasped most clearly by an approach in principle. To "consult" is not merely to tell or present. Nor, at the other extreme is it to agree. Consultation does not necessarily involve negotiation toward an agreement, although the latter not uncommonly can follow, as the tendency in consultation is to seek at least consensus. Consultation is an intermediate situation involving meaningful discussion. Despite its somewhat impromptu nature I cannot improve on the attempt at description, which I made in West Coast United Council v Prebble, at p 405:

'Consultation involves the statement of a proposal not yet fully decided upon, listening to what others have to say, considering their responses and then deciding what will be done.'

Implicit in the concept is a requirement that the party consulted will be (or will be made) adequately informed so as to be able to make intelligent and useful responses. It is also implicit that the party obliged to consult, while quite entitled to have a working plan already in mind, must keep its mind open and be ready to change and even start afresh. Beyond that, there are no universal requirements as to form. Any manner of oral or written interchange which allows adequate expression and consideration of views will suffice. Nor is there any universal requirement as to duration. In some situations adequate consultation could take place in one telephone call. In other contexts it might require years of formal meetings. Generalities are not helpful."



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