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Vicariously Yours - The Who, What, Why and How of liability under the RMA


In taking enforcement action under the RMA, it is critical not only to identify the relevant breach, but also to be clear about who can and should be held responsible for it.  Depending on the nature of the enforcement action to be taken and the outcomes you hope to achieve, different parties may come into the picture as appropriate subjects for enforcement action.  Increasingly, the subjects of enforcement action are advancing largely technical challenges based on their specific liability rather than contesting the breach itself.

Using case studies, this presentation will address how your compliance team can ensure the right parties are targeted for enforcement action so as to achieve meaningful outcomes.  Topics covered will include:

  • Direct liability versus vicarious liability under section 340

  • "Permitting" versus vicarious liability for corporate defendants

  • Applying the section 340(2) defence

  • Enforcement action against directors, resource consent holders, contractors and individuals

  • Who or what qualifies as a "person" under the RMA

  • The appropriate form of charging documents

  • Appropriate parties for abatement notices or enforcement orders

These points are not just to be left to the lawyers.  It is critical that investigators have a clear understanding of issues relating to liability under the RMA so that the right questions are asked and the right parties end up with the notice, in the order, or in the dock.

Joshua Shaw
Partner, Wynn Williams


Joshua Shaw is a Partner in the Dispute Resolution team at Wynn Williams.  He specialises in regulatory and disciplinary proceedings, including by leading prosecutions on behalf of Environment Southland, Environment Canterbury and the New Zealand Law Society.  Prior to joining Wynn Williams, Joshua was a Partner at the Office of the Auckland Crown Solicitor where he worked as a prosecutor for twelve years, leading a number of complex and high profile cases.


Vanessa Sugrue
Solicitor, Canterbury Regional Council


Vanessa Sugrue is a solicitor with Environment Canterbury in charge of the compliance and enforcement portfolio. She is involved in all aspects of the prosecution process from drafting charging documents to conclusion of sentence.

She has been with the Councul for 10 years and prior to that was a criminal prosecutor with NZ Police.




Wednesday 13th Nov, 11:30am



  • Joshua Shaw
    Wynn Williams



  • Vanessa Sugrue
    Canterbury Regional Council

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