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Council will study pool fencing judgement

Council will study pool fencing judgement to see how it affects prosecutions of pool owners

Waitakere City Council will soon begin reviewing its pool prosecutions cases in light of the judgment of Judge Randerson, released today.

The Council had asked the High Court for a declaratory judgement about the correct interpretation of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act, in order to give some certainty to pool owners and the Council that has to enforce the law.

This follows pool owners disputing the interpretation of aspects of the Act – especially the definition of immediate pool area.

“The judgment is limited, which we expected, but it does give some guidance on a number of points and that is welcome For example, the judge says gardens cannot be considered part of the pool area but various facilities such as barbecues can be, provided they are close to the pool,” says Waitakere City Council’s manager of legal services, Denis Sheard.

“The judge has gone to some lengths to emphasise the fact that the term “immediate pool area” means that the fence has to be in close proximity to the pool – and that is a similar view to the one the Council has always stated , but there may some issues of detail that may need to be reconsidered,” he says.

Mr Sheard says the judgment also clearly rejects the pool owners’ claims supporting a very liberal interpretation of the Act.

“The Judge’s comments to the effect that there is a grey area in the law which makes it difficult for both pool owners and local authorities to understand and comply with their obligations, is helpful if it will spur some legislative action from Central Government,” says Mr Sheard

“It will take some time to go through the judgment to understand it clearly and then to re-assess all pending cases in light of the judgment. It is too soon to decide how this will affect any of the cases,” he says.

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