Public Law Toolbox (2nd Edition)

Author(s): Mai Chen

Special Order

All New Zealanders have to interact with government, whether due to business regulation, getting government assistance, or administrative decision-making concerning licenses, or allocation of government funding. But not all citizens and businesses know how to successfully work with government, or how to challenge a government decision on a matter of administration, or policy, or Parliamentary decisions on law-making which detrimentally affects them.

This second edition levels the playing field for those dealing with government. It is an outsider’s guide to the insider’s view of government.

There is an entire “Toolbox” of public law mechanisms that sit alongside traditional commercial law remedies, which can help citizens and businesses successfully resolve government, regulatory or policy and law reform issues. Ministers, officials and regulators have unique obligations to be transparent and to act within the lawful limits of exercising public power. There is also a range of options apart from the courts to challenge government decision-making.

The Public Law Toolbox will assist those wanting to influence policy and law reform issues for business, not for profit or democratic reasons by describing the tools available and how to use them for greatest effectiveness. It will also assist those wanting to resolve disputes concerning administrative and government decision-making, and advise businesses on how to use the toolbox to resolve disputes with competitors.

The book will assist governments and officials to understand their unique legal, transparency and accountability obligations and the risks that they face, taking political and public opinion factors into account.


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Mai Chen is a Managing partner of Chen Palmer New Zealand Public and Employment Law Specialists, Australasia’s first public law specialist firm, voted New Zealand’s top public law firm in the New Zealand Law awards in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Mai is also Adjunct Professor in Commercial and Public Law at the University of Auckland Business School. She has particular expertise in constitutional and administrative law, judicial review, regulatory issues, and public policy and law reform. Mai is a legal trouble-shooter and provides public law advice for leaders in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, and she advises Māori, Pacifica and Asian clients.

Mai co-authored Public Law in New Zealand: Cases, Materials, Commentary and Questions published by Oxford University Press in 1993, and has written over 100 articles and contributions to books on public law. She has previously worked at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, and as a senior lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington Law Faculty, has sat on the Securities Commission and numerous private and public entity boards, and has undertaken ministerial reviews of the policy on women in combat and of the Privacy Act 1993. In 2014, she published Transforming Auckland: The Creation of Auckland Council with LexisNexis.

Mai was the inaugural chair of NZ Global Women, and is the current chair of NZ Asian Leaders. She was atop 10 finalist in New Zealander of the Year in 2013, and has been in the 50 Top NZ Influencers list of the Listener and Unlimited magazines. Mai also won the Business and Entrepreneur Women of Influence Award in 2013, the Supreme Judges Panel Award and the Professional Excellence Award at the New Zealand Chinese Business Elite Awards in 2012, and Next Magazine's Business Woman of the Year in 2011. Mai has a First Class Law Honours degree from Otago University, and a Master’s degree from Harvard Law School.

Table of Contents


Public law toolbox

Holding government (and business) to account

How government works in an MMP environment

Elections and political parties

Problem solving with the public law toolbox

Working with the government

Policy making and law reform

Making law

Parliamentary tools

Human rights protection

International law toolbox




Gathering information

The Privacy Commissioner




Office of the Auditor-General

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment



The Health and Disability Commissioner

The Independent Police Conduct Authority

Regulations Review Committee

Judicial Conduct Commissioner

Accountability of Intelligence and Security Agencies


Business Regulators

Regulation of professions



Litigation as a public law tool 



Fraud and corruption


Constitutional change in New Zealand


General Fields

  • : 9781927248706
  • : LexisNexis New Zealand Ltd
  • : LexisNexis New Zealand Ltd
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Mai Chen