Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

The Lord Cooke Project

–Joel Colon-Rios, Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law

The Right Honourable Lord Cooke of Thorndon (1926–2006) is widely regarded as one of the greatest New Zealand judges. He made a monumental contribution to many areas of law across more than five decades of writing, advocacy, and judging. Lord Cooke served as President of the New Zealand Court of Appeal and a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as well as being a Lord of Appeal. His influence as a judge is evident from his landmark judgments in diverse fields of law, including the interpretation of the New Zealand Treaty of Waitangi between the Crown and indigenous Māori, administrative and constitutional law decisions, as well as other decisions in contract, equity, and torts.

Lord Cooke made an equally significant contribution through extra-judicial writing. The “Lord Cooke Project” is a Victoria University of Wellington initiative that seeks to capture the breadth of Lord Cooke’s extra-judicial writing—a prolific collection of seminal writing in books, book chapters, journals, speeches, and book reviews. Using the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) platform, the Lord Cooke Project provides access to a (ultimately) comprehensive list of Lord Cooke’s extra-judicial writing, including abstracts of each article along with electronic copies of his writing (where copyright permits). The Lord Cooke Project is led by Professor John Prebble and Dr Joel Colon-Rios at Victoria University, with research assistance from Tim Cochrane (a solicitor at Kensington Swan) and Elizabeth Chan (a judge’s clerk at the Supreme Court of New Zealand).

The abstracts and articles will be uploaded to SSRN in thematic series. This series comprises five articles relating to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZBORA), and similar legislation in other jurisdictions. First, in “A Standard for Justice” in 1986, Lord Cooke comments on a possible bill of rights for New Zealand, at a book launch of a text published to build momentum for such legislation. Then, in 1993, following New Zealand’s enactment of the NZBORA in 1990, Lord Cooke welcomed the publication of a new series of law reports, the Bill of Rights Reports, and commented on how the Court of Appeal had interpreted the NZBORA in the first three years following its enactment. Further comments on its interpretation followed in “Brass Tacks and Bills of Rights”, where Lord Cooke discussed the NZBORA in contrast to the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. Similarly, in “Mechanisms for Entrenchment and Protection of a Bill of Rights” and “The British Embracement of Human Rights” Lord Cooke again compared the NZBORA, this time to the (then) proposed British legislation.

To view the SSRN page of Lord Cooke and begin reading these abstracts and papers, please visit here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *