21 Mar 2023

Anti-vaccine mandate appeal denied for taking too long

2:11 pm on 21 March 2023
MIQ and border workers getting Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine.

Photo: Supplied / Ministry of Health

A small group of teachers and doctors opposed to Covid-19 vaccine mandates have failed in an attempt to take a case to the Court of Appeal after they missed the deadline.

The groups, Doctors Speaking out with Science (NZDSOS) and Teachers Speaking Out with Science (NZTSOS), wanted to appeal against a High Court decision that said the order for frontline health professionals to be vaccinated against Covid-19 was legal. A later court ruling also confirmed the mandate was legal for teachers and other health workers.

They did not appeal on time, so the case was deemed abandoned and they have now been denied the right to appeal altogether after changing their minds.

"We consider the delay in this case is inordinate," the court's latest decision read.

"The judgment in question was delivered over a year ago. It has been more than 11 months since the appeal was deemed abandoned. Further, in the period that has elapsed, the order has been revoked."

The court said NZTSOS, which filed the new appeal, "has been legally represented throughout and must have been aware that its appeal was deemed abandoned back in March 2022".

"Despite that, as noted above, it still did not take any steps for many months."

The court also noted the vaccine mandates were no longer in place, and "although there will always be public interest in determining the lawfulness of orders that limited the rights of affected workers, things have moved on".

NZTSOS said the order might still be relevant to proceedings before the Employment Relations Authority, but did not supply details, so the Court of Appeal said it was unable to take that into consideration.

The two groups have been told to pay costs.

They have a second appeal on a different point of law set down for later this year.

Anti-mandate groups had more legal success against mandates in the police and defence forces.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs