23 Nov 2013

Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund case goes to court

11:00 am on 23 November 2013

The Cook Islands High Court has started hearing the controversial Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund case.

Cook Islands news says legal observers are describing the case as one of the most important cases currently before the courts.

In 2011, The Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund, CINSF, filed a notice of application, seeking a declaratory judgement declaring that the CINSF Act does not breach the constitution of the Cook Islands in any way, and is an Act which has legal effect and is biding in law.

Defence lawyer Tim Arnold says a recent development is the crown acknowledging it will review legislation concerning the fund, but he says it refuses to guarantee fund contributions and its earnings.

He says the biggest single issue the court has to answer is - should the government be forcing locals to hand over their retirement saving without the guarantee that the money will still be there when they need those retirement savings.

He says the crown, as part of reviewing the superannuation act, will not accept responsibility for loss of savings.

He also argues the Act is unconstitutional and that fund contributions, which are deducted from a worker's earnings, do not represent a tax.

New Zealand lawyer Mike Ruffin is representing the crown for the proceedings.

A total of six days have been set aside for the case, which is expected by the defence lawyer to run well into the end of next week.