Does the Supreme Court ruling mean people can sue councils or DHBs for fluoridating the water?

The judgment opens avenues to challenge a decision to fluoridate the water, but not to sue for damages. It has always been possible in theory to sue for damages. That hasn’t changed.

The decision also gives weight to a challenge under section 23 of the Health Act (which was always theoretically possible), as it has been confirmed that Councils are bound by that in relation to water fluoridation.

The key options of legal challenge are: 

1)   The decision maker did not carry out a section 5 Bill of Rights analysis when making the decision, or if they did they did not consider relevant matter and/or considered irrelevant matters

2)   The Council has an obligation to protect and promote the public health under Section 23 of the Health Act. The weight of evidence of harm or at least risk from water fluoridation (central nervous system damages e.g. lowering IQ, ADHD; exacerbating hypothyroidism; increasing rates of depression) is demonstrated to the balance of probabilities (the level set by the Supreme Court) and therefore a Council must not add fluoride (and must cease if it is already doing so), regardless of any direction from a DHB if the current legislation is passed (the DHB is bound in the same way through other provisions not addressed in the Supreme Court decision).