Winter / Spring 2017 Newsletter

Introducing Sarah Wynyard-Davis, Family Lawyer

Welcome to our new team member at McLeods, lawyer Sarah Wynyard-Davis.

Sarah has experience in a range of Family Law matters including disputes related to day to day care and contact, domestic violence matters and issues resulting from the breakup of relationships.  Sarah likes to focus on helping parties come to a mutually agreed upon resolution to their family matters but if this is not possible she has appeared in the Family Court many times and is experienced in resolving matters in this forum also.

Sarah is looking forward to the chance to re-establish her practice here with the team at McLeods.  She will be working on building a strong family practice that will help serve the needs of our community and will also be working alongside the rest of the team at McLeods in other areas of the practice.

Sarah is a Northland local, attending Bay of Islands College before heading away to study at Waikato University and gaining degrees in Law and Psychology.  She was admitted to the Bar in 2003.  After studying she returned home and worked at local firms in Kerikeri.

The last few years has seen her taking time out of the profession to raise her family and milk a few (600) cows with her husband who is a local dairy farmer.  With all of the changes and regulations in the dairy industry she has been kept busy during her time away implementing procedures on farm, looking after employees, and keeping up to date with policy changes. Having this hands on experience in the dairy industry as both an employer and a partner in 50/50 Share milking arrangements she understands the issues that may arise in the industry and within farm working relationships.

Away from work Sarah enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being on the farm, talking to her eldest son who has recently moved to Mt Isa Australia L,  and playing taxi driver/cheerleader to her four younger children delivering them to whichever activity they have next on their calendars!


Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 – Happy First Birthday

Based on the 2011 Australian Model Work Health and Safety Act, New Zealand’s Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) passed into law on 4 April 2016. New Zealand’s historically high rate of workplace deaths and near misses (notably the 2010 Pike River Mine tragedy where 29 miners died due to substantial health and safety failures) was a key motivator for the overhaul of our health and safety laws.

During Parliament’s readings and consultation over the HSWA, business people and the general public voiced concerns that the HSWA was a step too far and would unreasonably and fundamentally affect the way New Zealand businesses operated. However, the lawmakers cited our poor health and safety record in pushing the HSWA through.

Prior to the enactment of the HSWA, between 40 and 60 people were killed in workplace accidents each year. According to Worksafe New Zealand, this number is more than three times the annual workplace deaths in the UK and double those in Australia. The HSWA seems to be having an effect; with the deaths in the agriculture and construction industries dropping during 2016.

 General responsibilities

Under the HSWA, Persons Conducting Business or Undertakings (PCBU) have a duty to ensure that, so far as reasonably practical, the workplace is without risks to the health and safety of any person. PCBU’s are usually business entities such as companies, but also includes sole traders, self-employed persons, contractors and certain volunteer organisations. The HSWA also places obligations on persons to whom responsibility for health and safety has been delegated (Officers) and persons working at a workplace (Workers).

In general terms, a PCBU’s underlying obligation is a duty to ensure that all reasonable measures have been taken to protect the health and safety of Workers and other persons who are at the workplace. Officers (individuals who are in positions that allow them to exercise significant influence over the management of the business or undertaking) are responsible for exercising due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies with its duties. Workers must take care of themselves and ensure that they do not affect the safety of others and comply with all reasonable directions, policies and procedures.


A Worker who commits an offence of reckless conduct will be liable to pay a maximum fine of $300,000 or serve a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. For the same offence, a PCBU or an Officer may pay a maximum fine of $600,000 or serve a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

If a Worker is convicted of failing to comply with a duty that exposes an individual to the risk of death, serious injury or illness, they will be liable to pay a maximum fine of $150,000. In the same instance, a PCBU or an Officer will be liable to pay a maximum fine of $300,000.

If a Worker fails to comply with a duty (that does not also expose an individual to a risk of death or serious injury) he or she will be liable to pay a maximum fine of $50,000. In the same instance, a PCBU or Officer will be liable to pay a maximum fine of $100,000.

Decisions by the Courts

The press followed the prosecution of Pike River Coal Limited (PRCL) closely and many considered the sentences to be lenient. In that matter, PRCL was convicted under the old Act and therefore faced lesser penalties than those set out in the HSWA. The Department of Labour brought three charges against PRCL (each carrying a maximum of a fine under the old Act of $250,000) and it pleaded guilty to all three charges. In its judgement, the Greymouth District Court fined PRCL $46,800 in total for unsafe work practices.

Although there have been no convictions under the HWSA yet (as the incidents currently before the Courts and at a stage where decisions are being made occurred prior to 4 April 2016), recent decisions by the Courts under the old Act have suggested that a harder line (than in PRCL) seems to have been taken since the introduction of the HSWA.

In November 2016, the Court was asked to determine penalties relating to an incident that involved an employee who was killed when a substance was being transferred from a transport tank to another tank under pressure. The company involved was charged under the old Act and pleaded guilty. The penalties levied on the defendant in this matter were more severe than those in the PRCL case. Here, the company was ordered to pay $140,319.80 in reparation to the victim’s family. Reparation was ordered instead of fines so that the affected persons were compensated as the company was in liquidation and did not have the resources to pay both reparation and fines. However, the Court found that an appropriate fine, in this case, would have been $73,800.


Building a Boundary Fence

The Fencing Act 1978 prescribes the steps that a person must take before building a fence on or near the boundary with a neighbour. It is a three step process:

  1. Send a fencing notice

The neighbour wishing to build, replace or repair a boundary fence must notify the other neighbour(s) about the type of fence and materials to be used, the cost of the fence and the details of when the work will start and who will do it. The notice must also confirm that the neighbour(s) may object and make a proposal of its own or may refuse to accept liability (if good reasons exist to do so) for the cost of the fence.

  1. Objection

The neighbour(s) to whom the fencing notice is given may object to any element of the proposal and may provide a counter proposal.

  1. Build a fence or negotiate

If there is no objection (either because the neighbour does not respond or accept the proposal) within 21 days of the date of the fencing notice, the process is complete and the fence may be constructed as per the fencing notice and the costs split 50/50. However, if there is an objection, the neighbours must come to an agreement and if they cannot do so, either party may refer the matter to a mediator, adjudicator, the Disputes Tribunal or the District Court


All information in this newsletter is to the best of the authors’ knowledge true and accurate. No liability is assumed by the authors, or publishers for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon this newsletter.  It is recommended that clients should consult a senior representative of the firm before acting upon this information.



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