It is a very disappointing judgement. I have read the entire judgement and at first pass it seems to me that Justice Venning found himself an escape hatch. Judges do not want their verdicts to be controversial or overruled, and you can bet he knew if he had found in favour of the ‘Coalition’ his ruling would have been attacked.
His escape hatch was two pronged:
1. Venning found that two of the key ‘expert witnesses’ for the Coalition, did not satisfy his definition of ‘expert witness’. That allowed him to simply disregard their arguments and evidence rather than look at them with as much weight as he applied to the testimony of NIWA’s experts which he appeared to accept without question.
 Section 23 of the Evidence Act 2006 provides that a statement of opinion is not admissible except as provided by ss 24 or 25. Opinion is defined in the Evidence Act at s 4 as: “A statement of opinion that tends to prove or disprove a fact.” I accept Mr Smith’s submission that there are substantial portions of Mr Dunleavy’s original and reply affidavits where he proffers opinions on matters in issue in the proceedings, particularly on scientific practices and the validity of the scientific practices of NIWA. Such evidence could only be admissible under s 24 or s 25. Section 24 is not applicable in the circumstances. Section 25 could only apply if Mr Dunleavy was an expert in the particular area of the science of meteorology and/or climate. He is not. He has no applicable qualifications. His interest in the area does not sufficiently qualify him as an expert. I also accept Mr Smith’s further point that Mr Dunleavy’s views are not capable of offering substantial help to this Court on the issue that it has to determine. To that extent I agree that substantial passages of Mr Dunleavy’s evidence are inadmissible.
 Similar issues (as to the limited nature of his expertise), apply to the evidence of Mr Dedekind. Although in his affidavit in reply Mr Dedekind purported to comply with r 9.43, Mr Dedekind’s expertise is in relation to computer modelling and statistical analysis.
In fact Vennings makes the following outrageous statement which reminds me of the same criticisms which were made of Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre who were ‘unqualified’ to critique Michael Mann’s infamous Hockey Stick graph, with errors which had escaped the notice of thousands of supposedly qualified climate experts!
 I accept Mr Smith’s criticism of Mr Dedekind’s evidence to the extent that Mr Dedekind is not an expert in the application of statistical techniques in the field of climate science. Mr Dedekind’s general expertise in basic statistical techniques does not extend to any particular specialised experience or qualifications in the specific field of applying statistical techniques in the field of climate science. To that extent, where Mr Dedekind purports to comment or give opinions as to NIWA’s application of statistical techniques in those fields, his evidence is of little assistance to the Court.
These findings allowed Justice Venning to ignore or discount the Coalition’s evidence and instead preference whatever NIWA experts testified, even if they didn’t provide solid evidence; such as the hard copy of the adjusted temperature calculations, or the copy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Review. All they offered the court is testimony that their station data had been peer reviewed!
2. Venning found that it was not up to the court to make decisions between two competing scientific theories. So provided NIWA were using a credible theory then that was sufficient.
 I consider this Court should be cautious about interfering with decisions made and conclusions drawn by a specialist body, such as NIWA, acting within its own sphere of expertise. In such circumstances a less intensive or, to put it another way, a more tolerant review is appropriate.
 There is a further point. At times the witnesses have identified a difference of opinion about scientific methods applicable to climatology. There are a number of examples where the Court stated its reluctance to adjudicate on matters of scientific debate.
In SmithKline Beecham (New Zealand) Ltd v Minister of Health Ronald Young J said:
This Court’s function is not to rule on the science. The important point is that Medsafe, MAAC and Dr Boyd have considered all the Plaintiffs’ scientific propositions and have a credible view of the science by relevantly qualified scientists. They have considered and rejected on scientific grounds the Plaintiffs’ views on safety and efficacy and related matters.
 Unless the decision maker has followed a clearly improper process, the Court will be reluctant to adjudicate on matters of science and substitute its own inexpert view of the science if there is a tenable expert opinion:
I guess had the ‘Coalition’ known this was the Justice’s position from the outset, then they would have known they were fighting an unwinnable case!
In fact Justice Venning made it pretty clear that not only would he not consider the intricacies of what method had been used to establish the temperature series and a warming trend, he was happy to take NIWA at it’s word on how it went about things:
 In summary to this point, the matters the Trust refers to and relies upon to support its argument that NIWA did not apply RS93 methodology to the 7SS are, at best, ambiguous and equivocal. Against that there is the express sworn testimony of Dr Wratt and Dr Mullan as to the application of the RS93. Dr Wratt deposes:41
The methods outlined [homogenisation methods] are the basis for the homogenisation used for the temperature series presented in the Salinger et al 1992 report, and for the NZ temperature series used in the Mullan et al 2010 report. Homogenised time series reported in Folland and Salinger 1993, produced by Salinger and colleagues in 1992 utilising the methods documented in Rhoades and Salinger 1993, [RS93] form the basis (with annual updates for new data) for the [7SS] used by NIWA between 1992 and mid-2010. …
 To the extent these matters involve differing contestable scientific opinions the Court cannot resolve them. However, I have to observe that Dr Wratt’s evidence appears credible and reasonable and, if necessary, I would accept it in preference to the evidence for the Trust on this point.
Vennings in the end really says he couldn’t care less how NIWA worked out it’s temperature trends, he would accept it since he has already made it clear he wouldn’t adjudicate the science!:
 It is unnecessary for this Court to resolve this scientific debate. On the evidence I accept it is more than arguable that the purpose of the NIWA review was to independently recalculate site change temperature adjustments from the underlying data and metadata and to document how those recalculated adjustments were produced and what their values were. I accept that NIWA could have recalculated the temperature adjustments in a different way yet still have arrived at a similar result which would strengthen the robustness and validity of the previous results.
In addition Venning accepted NIWA’s argument that they did not have a legal responsibility to provide New Zealand’s temperature record.
. However, it has consistently been NIWA’s position that, while it has maintained a national climate database and has published the 7SS since 1992, it has not designated that as an official New Zealand temperature record. Dr Wratt explains that the reference to “the New Zealand temperature record” on NIWA’s website is used in a generic way to encompass a multitude of pieces of information which, together, compromise a record of New Zealand’s temperature.
. NIWA contends that the Trust essentially overstates the extent to which NIWA’s activities have direct public consequences.
….the Trust’s challenge is based on what it defines in its pleadings as “recognised scientific opinion”. A less intensive review is particularly apposite where the Court is not in a position to definitively adjudicate on scientific opinions. The Trust defines “recognised scientific opinion” as established scientific opinions and methods described in internationally recognised research journals. NIWA does not accept there is any such obligation, a matter to which I return shortly.
The Climate Coalition (or ‘Trust’) as it is referred to in the proceedings, raised valid point after valid point about the way data had been spliced, temperature stations had been selected and UHI had not been properly accounted for. In response, NIWA simply testified that they did handle each of those issues properly and gave some examples of how that might have been done without actually providing in evidence the actual adjusted data or the peer review of their work. Justice Venning simply accepted them at their word rather than take the legal course which was open to him, which would have been to assume an adverse position because they refused to provide evidence available to them.
If Justice Venning has acted appropriately under the law, it certainly doesn’t appear either logical or fair and will not stop people wondering what biases he may have allowed to come to bear, or what political pressure may have been brought to bear.
The Judgement in full:
Sceptical commentary and discussion:
The sceptics case is laid out in in various previous posts (NZ sceptics v. NIWA – summary of case, More about the NZ temperature record, What warming, Incredible sham from NIWA and others) which summarise the Coalition’s case against the Seven-Station Series (7SS).
It seems the NZCSET could do with some help from a properly qualified bona fide card carrying climatologist to get their analysis validated and represented. Here’s hoping they can find someone willing to step up, and that they get leave to appeal.