Brigitte Morten

Brigitte Morten

Brigitte is admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court.

She has over a decade of experience working in politics across Australia and New Zealand. She has a Bachelor of Law from Victoria University, a Masters of Law from the Australian National University, and a Graduate Certificate in Counter-Terrorism from Interdisciplinary Center (Israel).

Brigitte spent three years providing political and media advice to the Embassy of Israel in Australia, whilst dealing with a number of high profile events. She worked as a Senior Advisor in state politics and worked on a number of Australian state and federal election campaigns. Brigitte was a Chief of Staff to an Australian Senator, before returning home to be the Senior Ministerial Advisor to the Minister of Education in the last National Government.

She has worked extensively with clients in the private sector to help them establish and maintain relationships with government, lobby on important issues, and drive campaigns to raise public interest. Brigitte particularly enjoys working with grassroots and member based organisations.

Brigitte has extensive knowledge of law making processes, how to best utilise the Official Information Act, and how to coordinate public interest campaigns across multiple channels. She is particularly interested and experienced in firearms law, electoral law and large scale reforms.

She is a regular commentator for RNZ and Newshub, and writes a weekly column for NBR.

in the news
March 18, 2024
What are broadcasting standards and how are they enforced?

Broadcasting standards were introduced in New Zealand by the Broadcasting Standards Act 1989 (“Act”). Section 4 of the Act provides that every broadcaster is responsible for maintaining programmes and presentation standards that are consistent with —

  • observing good taste and decency;
  • maintaining law and order;
  • protecting the privacy of the individual;
  • ensuring reasonable efforts are made to present significant points of view on controversial issues of public importance; and
  • any applicable approved code of broadcasting practice.

The Act established the Broadcasting Standards Authority (“Authority”). The Authority is responsible for determining complaints, oversight and development of broadcasting standards, and education and engagement.

The Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand contains the standards which the Authority will uphold in their decisions. The code requires that:

  1. Broadcast content should not seriously violate community standards of taste and decency or disproportionately offend or disturb the audience;
  2. Broadcasters should ensure children can be protected from content that might adversely affect them;
  3. Broadcast content should not be likely to promote illegal or serious antisocial behaviour;
  4. Broadcast content should not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, any section of the community;
  5. When controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs or factual programmes, broadcasters should reasonably attempt to present significant viewpoints;
  6. Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure news, current affairs, and factual content is accurate in relation to all material points of fact and does not materially mislead the audience;
  7. Broadcasters should maintain standards consistent with the privacy of the individual; and
  8. Broadcasters should deal fairly with any individual or organisation taking part or referred to in a broadcast.

The Authority only determines complaints about programmes on TV and radio, as well as online and on-demand content that has previously been broadcast.

Some content which is not covered by the Authority (such as on-demand content not previously broadcast) is covered by the New Zealand Media Council (“NZMC”). However, the NZMC is an industry self-regulatory body and has no legally enforceable punitive powers.

How to make a complaint

All complaints through the Authority must meet the following requirements:

  • be in writing;
  • relate to a specific broadcast;
  • be made within the required timeframe (usually within 20 working days of the broadcast); and
  • include enough details to reasonably enable identification of the broadcast (e.g., date and time of the broadcast, title of the programme and the channel or station which broadcast the programme).
What is the complaints process?

A complaint, which is not privacy related, must first be made to the broadcaster (within 20 working days of the programme being broadcast). The broadcaster must then make a decision on the complaint within 20 working days(or 40 working days if an extension is requested) and send a copy of the decision to the complainant.

If a decision reached by a broadcaster is unsatisfactory or a written decision is not received before the deadline, the complaint can be referred to the Authority. The Authority then determines whether standards were breached and issues a written decision.

If the complainant is unhappy with the decision they can appeal to the High Court within one month of notification of the decision.  

What is the complaints process for privacy based complaints?

In the case of a complaint based on breach of privacy a complainant will have two options. They can either complain directly to the Authority or complain to the broadcaster first.

If a complaint is sent to the Authority, they will issue a written decision to the complainant. If the complainant is unhappy with the decision they can appeal to the High Court within one month.

If a complaint is sent to the broadcaster, they must send the complainant a decision within 20 working days (or 40 working days if an extension is requested). If the complainant is unhappy with the decision or it is not received by the deadline, they can refer the complaint to the Authority. If the complainant is unhappy with the decision of the authority, they may appeal to the High Court.

What remedies are available where standards have been breached?

The Authority has a number of remedies available to them where they find standards have been breached. These may involve ordering a broadcaster to:

  • Broadcast a statement about the decision;
  • Pay costs to the crown of up to $5,000;
  • Pay compensation of up to $5,000 for a breach of privacy;
  • Pay costs to the complainant, such as legal costs;
  • Not broadcast advertisements for up to 24 hours;and
  • Prevent further programmes in a series being broadcast.

The Authority may order costs against a complainant if it finds the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, or a complaint ought not to have been made.

What are some examples of successful complaints?

In Appleyard and NZME Radio Ltd, the claimant argued that the host of The Mike Hosking Breakfast had breached the accuracy standard. The host had responded to listener feedback which asked whether “striking teachers do all this on full pay” by saying “[w]ell of course they do! … people who go on strike have always been on full pay. They’re supported by the unions.”  

NZME did not initially uphold the complaint but, the Authority found that the response from the host was materially inaccurate. The Authority also found that text messages read out later in the programme did not constitute reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy. 

The Authority did not make orders as they considered publication of the decision to be sufficient.

 In McAulay and MediaWorks Radio Ltd the Authority did make orders. The complaint followed comments made by a talkback caller on Magic Talk’s Magic Mornings, which were endorsed by the host. The comments were found by MediaWorks to be denigrating towards Māori and breached the good taste and decency and discrimination and denigration standards.

MediaWorks upheld both complaints and in response held a number of internal meetings and implemented procedural changes in an effort to prevent similar incidents in the future.

This decision was then referred on to the Authority as the complainant did not think the response was enough. The Authority highlighted that the breach in this case was not a simple slip-up. The way the topic was framed by the host created an environment where such discriminatory comments were foreseeable and practically inevitable.

 Having upheld the complaint, the Authority made the following orders:

  • The broadcaster must draft a statement summarising the upheld aspects of the decision, for approval by the Authority. The statement should be broadcast at a similar time, and on the same day of the week, as the original broadcast, in order to reach a similar audience.
  • MediaWorks must pay to the Crown costs in the amount of $3,000 within one month of the date of the decision.

To understand more about this issue, please contact Director Brigitte Morten

October 13, 2023


Franks Ogilvie was instructed to assist with strategic advice and legal submissions on the Lower Hutt City Council proposed Change 56. This change was required due to new intensification laws and the Council sought to protect some areas from the new intensification with heritage protections.


The Voluntary Heritage Group seeks to have planning laws and regulations changed to ensure heritage listing can only be imposed on a property with the consent of the landowner.  Franks Ogilvie was originally instructed to assist with the designation of new and expanded heritage areas in the Lower Hutt City Council District Plan. However, Parliament passed the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act which required specified councils, such as Lower Hutt, to incorporate new intensification requirements in to their District Plan in a short time period.

What we did

In Plan Change 56, the Council effectively transposed the work to date on the District Plan regarding heritage. This would have resulted in significant new residential and commercial areas of Lower Hutt restricted in their ability to renovate or build. Franks Ogilvie provided support to the campaign that engaged with affected residents to enable them to submit on the process. Typically processes such as these are dominated by those that wish to protect heritage properties and the affected landowners struggle to have the information required to oppose them. The Voluntary Heritage Group provided a platform for these owners to demonstrate to council the impact a heritage designation would have on their property.

Franks Ogilvie provided legal advice on the responsibilities of the Council under the Enabling Housing Act and demonstrated that the Council was not meeting the high threshold the Act imposed for intensification exemptions. Franks Ogilvie drafted submissions for the process that drew on the insufficient evidence in the proposed plan change, illustrating that legally the Council could not impose the restrictions they sought to do so. Franks Ogilvie joined members of the group and expert witnesses to present orally to the Independent Panel.

Franks Ogilvie also provided support with media and member communications, and engagement with politicians.


The Council was not able to impose the new and expanded heritage areas. The Independent Panel Report agreed with the arguments put forward by the Voluntary Heritage Group including the Enabling Supply Act process was not the appropriate pathway to impose these new areas, the expert evidence in the report was insufficient and the Council had failed to properly engage with the Voluntary Heritage expert report. Notably, the Panel agreed with a key point raised by the Group that the proposed areas were actually areas of ‘special character’ that did not qualify for exemption under the Act.

For further information on this case or similar issues, please contact Director, Brigitte Morten.

August 14, 2023

Franks Ogilvie has wide-ranging experience in establishing and providing guidance to incorporated societies, including on constitutional arrangements, dispute resolution, and compliance matters.

In 2021, Franks Ogilvie  submitted on the Incorporated Societies Bill. We emphasised the distinctiveness of New Zealand's voluntary sector and warned against overly aligning incorporated societies' law with company law.

In July this year, Franks Ogilvie submitted  Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on the Incorporated Societies Regulations 2023. These proposed regulations will supplement the 2022 Act and deal with number of the administrative and procedural matters.

Key concerns that we raised were:

Embracing Digitalization While Ensuring Accessibility

The proposed regulations introduce mandatory online procedures for notifications and applications, with provisions allowing the Registrar to accept alternative methods in cases of unreasonableness.

Although the digital focus promotes efficiency, the potential exclusion of individuals facing digital barriers, such as the elderly, those with disabilities, or individuals in low-income or remote areas, raises concerns about access to essential services.


Franks Ogilvie recommended incorporating a provision in the proposed regulations that obliges the Registrar to accept paper-based applications, offering an equitable alternative to digital filing. To address concerns about potential inefficiency, a longer processing period for paper-based applications could be considered.

Protecting Privacy of Officers

Regulation 5(d) requires officers to list their physical address for incorporation applications, acknowledging the privacy implications. The same requirement applies to re-registration.

Franks Ogilvie noted that there are obvious privacy implications to requiring notification of physical address. Although MBIE has provided reassurance that officers’ physical addresses will not be made public on the register, this protection should be made certain in the Regulations. This change will give those considering participating in the voluntary sector a clear assurance that their privacy is not at risk.


Franks Ogilvie recommended revising the proposed regulations 5(d), 11, and 45(e)(i) to provide flexibility in address details submission. The options include requiring a physical or electronic address along with a telephone number or explicitly specifying that a provided physical address won't be made public without the officer's consent.

Financial reporting and total current assets

Proposed Regulation 15 defines financial reporting standards for small societies based on ‘total current assets’. The definition of "total current assets" is unclear and it includes other term which can be misinterpreted, such as ‘cash equivalent’. The proposed regulations draw on international accounting standards but lack clarity for practical application. The ambiguity surrounding investments such as term deposits creates uncertainty for small societies striving to meet financial reporting obligations.


Franks Ogilvie recommended amending Regulation 15(2) to specifically exclude term investments held with a deposit-taker (as defined in sch 2 cl 2 of the Deposit Takers Act 2023) from the definition of ‘cash equivalent’. This clarification ensures that small societies can accurately determine their financial reporting obligations, avoiding unnecessary costs and complexity.


You can read Franks Ogilvie's submission here

If you would like to understand more about Incorporated Societies and how the changes may affect your organisation, please contact Director Rob Ogilvie

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