A key issue currently facing Claimant groups is the issue of mandate. This Crown-imposed requirement is necessary in order to progress to Direct Negotiations with the Office of Treaty Settlements on behalf of the Crown and towards any potential settlement.
A mandate is where the Claimant group gives authority – a “mandate” – to a representative body or individuals (mandated representatives) to negotiate the terms of the settlement agreement with the Crown.
Mandate remains a very difficult and highly controversial issue. It is important to ensure that any mandate is properly obtained, and that the procedures involved are robust. The mandate process will be scrutinised by the Crown and also possibly by a Court if there are any challenges to a mandating process. The process for mandate needs to be:
- Well thought out;
- Carefully considered;
- Appropriately applied; and
- Pre-approved by the Crown.
Mandate is also increasingly becoming an issue before the Waitangi Tribunal. Since not all claimants can present their claims these days, the question of who has speaking rights becomes more important.
Mandate is important in both Negotiations and Tribunal matters in that it allows:
- The Claimant group to use its resources efficiently;
- The mandated group to administer a claim on behalf of an iwi, hapu or whanau group and/or authority to negotiate a claim on behalf of a Claimant group; and
- A claim to remain cohesive. For example, even once Mandated Representatives have a valid mandate they need to maintain the mandate from the group throughout the negotiations. Therefore ongoing internal communication is critical to the success of a settlement which may well take several years.
Our experienced Team can assist with any advice you may require about mandate and the mandate process.