Environmental / Resource Management

Minor Law Changes Not To Be Overlooked

The Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) brings with it important changes to a range of legislation affecting local government.

Omnibus Bills such as the above, which was passed on 24 March 2015, are often overlooked but can introduce significant changes to the law. This Bill amends a number of Acts that come within the every day operating sphere of local government. We have identified those of most relevance.

Land Transport Act 1998

Parking infringement notices
Section 140 is amended so that the contents of an infringement notice for a stationary vehicle offence (includes parking) must now include a summary of the provisions of section 133A (owner liability for stationary vehicle offences).

Local Electoral Act 2001

Timeframes adjusted
The Local Electoral Amendment Act 2013 extended the timeframe for completing pre-election processes by seven days for general elections, and this has now been extended to apply to all elections and polls under the Local Electoral Act.

Local Government Act 2002

Maintaining consistency with Local Electoral Act
Corresponding changes are made to Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002 in relation to polls applying to reorganisation proposals.

Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987

Information held by contractors
What constitutes official information 'held' by a local authority is extended to include "any information held by an independent contractor engaged by any local authority in his or her capacity as an independent contractor".

Purpose of the Act
There has been a subtle change to the purpose of the Act from "to provide for the availability to the public of official information held by local authorities" to "increase progressively the availability ...".

What counts as a request for official information
The scope of what constitutes a request for information has been clarified by providing that it may be made in any form (including orally), and need not refer specifically to the Act. Provision is also made for recording in writing clarification of an oral request. This is consistent with our longstanding advice that any request for information to a local authority ought to be treated as coming under the Act.

Timeframe if request amended
There are new provisions in section 13 for the timeframe for responding to be extended if the person requesting the information subsequently amends or clarifies the request.

Electronic response
There is clarification that information may be made available in electronic form or by electronic means.

Information that cannot be found
When a request for information is refused on the grounds that the document alleged to contain the information requested does not exist or cannot be found, there is clarification that there must have been "reasonable efforts to locate it".

The proposed amendment to define what constitutes legal professional privilege for the purposes of providing good reason to refuse a request for information has been omitted on the recommendation of the Government Administration Select Committee.

Reserves Act 1977

Relinquish a reserve to the Crown
Provision is added to section 12 for a local authority to voluntarily relinquish a reserve vested in it to the Crown, simply by the Minister making and Gazetting a declaration to that effect.

Provisions extended to reserves acquired otherwise than from Crown
The essentially pointless limitation in section 48A, which limited the authority to grant a licence over a reserve, for the purposes of a communications station, to reserves vested in a local authority by the Crown, is revoked. The provision now applies to the use of any reserve for a communications station. Similar limitations on the provisions relating to the variation of covenants, terms, and conditions in leases and licences in section 114, and transfers, subleases and mortgages in section 115, are also repealed.

Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012

Local alcohol policy appeals
There is clarification that the right of appeal to the licensing authority relates to a provisional, not a draft local alcohol policy.

Objections to licence applications
The provision in section 102 concerning objections to licence applications based on the suitability of the applicant is amended. The restriction of the ground of objection to suitability alone, applies only where the application is for a licence for premises "that is of the same kind as the licence currently in force for those premises" and where the conditions sought are the same as apply to that licence.

Obligation to keep records
The heading to section 232 is amended to clarify that the obligation to keep a record applies, as in the body of the section, to "managers, acting managers, and temporary managers".

Right to vote for community trustees
There is an amendment to section 371 to clarify that those persons qualified to vote in an election of trustees of a community trust must reside not just in the district of the territorial authority the trust is located in, but in the trust district.

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The contents of this publication are general in nature and are not intended to serve as a substitute for legal advice on a specific matter. In the absence of such advice no responsibility is accepted by Brookfields for reliance on any of the information provided in this publication.


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