News + Views

Stay informed with relevant legal news and important developments.

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  • The new workplace hazard for Council officers – online attacks

    For those in positions of official responsibility, and particularly in local government, the prospect of public frustration over certain decisions is ever-present.  People forget that a council officer is simply doing his or her job when they are faced with delays and expense from a problematic project.  It is easy for a council officer to…

  • Guidance on council decision-making functions

    The recent decision of Enterprise Miramar Peninsular Incorporated v Wellington City Council  [2018] NZHC 614 has provided some interesting guidance around council decision-making functions under the HASHAA and the RMA, particularly in relation to compliance with statutory timeframes and bias. The decision suggests: Apparent mandatory statutory timeframes, at least in HASHAA context, are in fact…

  • Dangerous and affected buildings in 2018

    Rice Speir’s recent involvement in the “Bella Vista Homes” situation in Tauranga has prompted this update on the dangerous and affected building regime in the Building Act 2004 (the Act).  As media reports suggest it is unprecedented for 21 homes to have been issued with dangerous and/or affected building notices at the same time.  In addition,…

  • Prosecuting to protect the past

    At a time where land for new commercial and residential buildings is becoming increasingly scarce, heritage can be seen as a hindrance to development.  Property owners, failing to appreciate the significance of their historic items, will undertake work without consulting with councils and/or applying for resource consent.  However, the public interest in preserving heritage is…

  • Building Act Potpourri

    Rice Speir regularly fields questions from local government clients about the day to day application of the Building Act and Building Code. Here are a few issues that we have dealt with recently that may be of interest. Pre-fabricated buildings We have recently dealt with the issue of pre-fabricated buildings constructed overseas, then placed on…

  • Can’t See the Wood for the Trees

    Queenstown Lakes District Council was found to not be liable for damage to motel units caused by a falling tree, which was on council land. The District Court concluded that the council did owe a duty of care to undertake inspection and maintenance of the trees on the council’s reserve, but had not breached its…

  • Councils fail to strike out claim by Carter Holt Harvey

    The High Court has released its latest decision in the long-running litigation between the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) – this time, on an application by 54 councils to strike out CHH’s third party claims against them. Background The MoE’s claim against CHH alleges that its Shadowclad product is defective and…

  • The Supreme Court on Stadium Southland

    In our June 2017 newsletter we published an article on the key points from the Court of Appeal’s landmark judgment in the “Stadium Southland” litigation.The decision was a win for councils, as it was found that a council did not owe a duty of care to “commissioning owners”, because they could not be said to…

  • Independent review of the April 2017 Edgecumbe flood

    On 6 April 2017, the Rangitāiki River breached a stopbank at College Road, Edgecumbe resulting in the flooding of much of the township. Around 15 houses were rendered permanently uninhabitable, and more than 250 other homes had to be evacuated to allow for the required repairs. On 10 April 2017, the Bay of Plenty Regional…

  • The right tool for the job in Building Act enforcement

    Failing to comply with a notice to fix. Recently we assisted Tasman District Council in prosecuting a landowner who had transformed his rural, two-storey shed into a potential dwelling. The council’s practices received a glowing endorsement from the Court, which is always worth celebrating. The basic facts were that neighbours first complained of the man’s…