Court of Appeal decision on election advertising leaves us none the wiser


The Electoral Commission sought the view of the Court of Appeal to clarify the approach the Commission should be taking to the interpretation of “election advertisement” when issuing advisory opinions and the meaning of “election programme” when providing advice on election broadcasting.

Clarification was needed following two 2014 decisions of the High Court that appeared to take different approaches regarding the meaning of “election advertisement” for the purposes of the Electoral Act. The appeal was limited to questions of law. The Commission was not seeking to challenge the findings in the Watson decision as they applied to the particular facts in that case. Because the appeal was taken in the interests of clarifying the law, the Commission agreed prior to the case to contribute to the legal costs of the respondents.

The Commission will be studying the Court?s decision in order to reflect it in advice and guidance to parties, candidates and third parties on their obligations in respect of electoral matters for future electoral events.

Until the Commission has had time to fully consider the Courts detailed findings and reasoning, the Commission will not be commenting further

A disgusting amount of time, effort and taxpayers’ money to determine if an ad breaches electoral law so that the Commission can refer a breach to police.

After a suitable delay, the police will then decline to prosecute.

Why do we even bother?

When is the last time you can remember anyone even being?officially reprimanded?for not having a promoter statement?