Rawlinson v Rice: 1997

(New Zealand Court of Appeal) The plaintiff asserted that a non-molestation order had been made against him by the defendant District Court Judge without jurisdiction and in breach of natural justice. He sued, in tort, for misfeasance in public office and breach of statutory duty.
Held: To succeed in a claim of misfeasance in public office a plaintiff must prove, on the balance of probabilities, that:
(a) The defendant is a public officer;
(b) The defendant was purporting to exercise powers conferred on him or her for the benefit of the public or a section of the public;
(c) The defendant either –
(i) acted for an ulterior or improper motive, with intent to injure another (described as ‘targeted malice’) or
(ii) knew that he or she was acting outside the power conferred, or was recklessly indifferent thereto, and that this was likely to injure the plaintiff (described as ‘non-targeted malice’); and
(d) this caused damage to the plaintiff.


[1997] 2 NZLR 651


England and Wales


FollowedGarrett v Attorney-General 1997
(New Zealand Court of Appeal) Mr Garrett claimed damages for financial loss and damage to her reputation caused by the alleged failure of the police to investigate her complaint that she had been raped by a police constable in a police station.

Cited by:

MentionedWatkins v Home Office and others HL 29-Mar-2006
The claimant complained of misfeasance in public office by the prisons for having opened and read protected correspondence whilst he was in prison. The respondent argued that he had suffered no loss. The judge had found that bad faith was . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other

Updated: 01 May 2022; Ref: scu.240003