News + Views

Stay informed with relevant legal news and important developments.

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  • Dollar deterrence: Bach renovation leads to $17,000 fine

    A businessman who renovated an old bach in Abel Tasman was hit with a fine of more than $17,000 for illegal building work. Rice Speir helped Charlotte Spilman and the team at Tasman District Council to achieve the speedy and cost-effective Building Act prosecution. After early guilty pleas to eight charges involving illegal building work,…

  • Neighbourhood dispute or a disaster waiting to happen? What councils can learn from a dispute over a treehouse

    The case of a young family in Mosgiel who were forced to fix or get rid of their treehouse after a neighbour’s complaint gained national media attention. It all started because the neighbour felt their privacy was being breached by the children in the treehouse, which overlooked their backyard.  The council was obliged to investigate,…

  • The show must go on

    The owners of a defective apartment building in Mt Maunganui thought they had the right to repair the building before their case went to trial. The court, however, said the show must go on. The owners had argued that they stood to lose substantial sums of money if a 10-week trial went ahead based on…

  • If you snooze, you lose – prosecuting under the Building Act 2004

    The moment a council officer notices something wrong at a building site, the clock begins ticking on a prosecution. A council gets just six months to prosecute under the Building Act from that moment.  Once you know (or should know) about non-compliant building work, time starts to run for filing charging documents in Court. Running…

  • Solicitor avoids summary judgment

    Summary judgment can be an effective means of disposing of litigation before it ever reaches trial.  However, there are certain requirements that need to be carefully considered before launching such an application.  Recently, Rice Speir successfully defended its solicitor client in a summary judgment application brought in the High Court at Whangarei (Daisley v Whangarei…

  • A welcome initiative from MBIE on the “gap” in B2

    In May 2018, at the Building Officials Institute of New Zealand Conference, Helen Rice and I convened a panel discussion on an issue facing most councils in New Zealand – design engineers refusing to certify compliance with clause B2 of the Building Code. We explained that the situation is a directive from IPENZ and ACENZ,…

  • A meaty issue for Land Meat New Zealand Limited

    A recent sentencing decision demonstrates the difficulty for defendants hoping to establish successful defences to charges under the Resource Management Act 1991 (Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council v Land Meat New Zealand Limited). Land Meat New Zealand Limited (Land Meat) had pleaded guilty to discharging a contaminant, being meat processing waste water, onto land in circumstances where…

  • Can’t see the wood for the trees – part 2

    In our March 2018 newsletter we discussed the District Court case where the Queenstown Lakes District Council was found not responsible for damage to motel units caused by a falling tree located on a council reserve.  The motel owner has now successfully appealed that decision to the High Court, which found the council liable for…

  • 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…