Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Judgment: Osborne v Worksafe New Zealand

COURT OF APPEAL OF NEW ZEALAND

TE KŌTI PĪRA O AOTEAROA

16 February 2017

MEDIA RELEASE

OSBORNE v WORKSAFE NEW ZEALAND

(CA735/2015) [2017] NZCA 11

PRESS SUMMARY

This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found at www.courtsofnz.govt.nz.

[1] The Court of Appeal has today dismissed an appeal brought by Ms Osborne and Ms Rockhouse, whose husband and son respectively were killed in the Pike River coal mine disaster. Ms Osborne and Ms Rockhouse sought judicial review of a decision by Worksafe New Zealand not to offer evidence against the former chief executive of Pike River Coal Limited (in receivership), Mr Whittall.

[2] The decision of the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision of the High Court dismissing the appellants’ application for judicial review.

[3] Prosecutions under the HSE Act were originally brought against three defendants. VLI Drilling International Pty Ltd, a contractor, pleaded guilty to three charges. It was fined $46,800. Pike River Coal Ltd, the mine owner, faced nine charges. It did not defend them. It was fined $760,000 and ordered to pay $3.41 million in reparation to the families of the 29 men killed and to the two survivors.

[4] Mr Whittall faced 12 charges. He pleaded not guilty. In August 2013 Mr Whittall undertook to make a voluntary payment of $3.41 million in the event the prosecution offered no evidence against him. InDecember 2013 Worksafe decided that it would not offer any evidence in support of the charges against Mr Whittall. Judge Farish in the District Court then dismissed the charges against Mr Whittall. In due course the victims’ families received payments totalling $3.41 million from Mr Whittall’s insurer.

[5] Ms Osborne and MsRockhouse subsequently applied for judicial review of the prosecution decision not to offer evidence in relation to the charges involving Mr Whittall and the District Court decision to dismiss them.In particular, Ms Osborne and MsRockhouse claimed the decisions were an unlawful bargain to stifle a prosecution in exchange for payment. That argument was rejected by the High Court.

[6] In upholding the High Court decision, the Court of Appeal has found the decisions were lawfully made. There was no express or tacit indication by the prosecution that MrWhittall’s proposal would necessarily be accepted. Accordingly, there was no unlawful agreement to stifle the prosecution by payment of money. As a matter of law, the prosecutor was entitled to consider and give weight to a conditional reparation undertaking as one factor in deciding whether or not to pursue the prosecution further. Worksafe was found by the Court to have properly and independently considered Mr Whittall’s reparation undertaking, amongst other factors, in concluding it was no longer in the public interest to pursue prosecution of Mr Whittall.

[7] The Court noted that even if the prosecution decision had been shown to be unlawful, it would not have set it aside. The $3.41 million payment had been made and irretrievably transferred to the victims’ families. The Court would however have considered granting declaratory relief only, had unlawfulness been established.


Full judgment: Osborne_v_Worksafe.pdf

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Budget

It may seem like Oliver to be so bold as to ask the Finance Minister for more gruel – but what the Dickens, Steven Joyce… is this Budget really as good as it gets?

Supposedly, the public was going to receive significant rewards – an election year lolly scramble no less – for the eight years of belt tightening that they’ve endured, and for the rundown of essential public services.

Well, what Budget 2017 delivered instead in Education and in Health were allocations barely sufficient to maintain the current levels of service delivery More>>

Scoop Full Coverage: of Budget Announcements & Reaction
Latest: Scoop Search

 
 

Auditor-General Stands Down For Investigation: Gordon Campbell On (Not) Taking Responsibility

So Martin Matthews, our current Auditor-General wishes he could have detected “earlier” the fraud that occurred on his watch at the Ministry of Transport. Hmmm. But he could have detected it earlier, surely? That’s the point. More>>

ALSO:

NGOs Pleased: Govt To Halt Collection Of Client Data

Brenda Pilott, the chair of ComVoices and national manager of Social Service Providers Aotearoa, congratulates the government on its decision to call a halt to the collection of individual client data until the concerns of not-for-profit service providers have been worked through. More>>

ALSO:

Gosh: Blasphemy Law Repeal Struck Down

Chris Hipkins, the MP who tabled a Supplementary Order Paper to add our Blasphemy Law to the Statutes Repeal Bill, said this was a "sad day for freedom of speech, tolerance, and leadership". More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Navy’s Dealings With Fat Leonard, And Twin Peaks

At an official level, our “she’ll be right” attitude routinely spills over into a keen resentment of anyone who suggests the outcomes may be less than satisfactory… The Navy has now gone one step beyond. It won’t even ask itself whether it did a good job. More>>

ALSO:

NZDF: Fifth Rotation Of Troops Heads To Iraq

The fifth rotation of New Zealand Defence Force troops left today for a six-month mission training Iraqi soldiers. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Demonising Of Iran

Will New Zealand still be willing to pursue its recent trade overtures to Iran, now that US President Donald Trump has used his speech in Riyadh to single out Iran as the main source of terrorism and instability in the Middle East? More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 

Opening The Election Supporters

 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election
 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog