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Prosecutions - why do they fail?


Prosecutions - why do they fail and how do you protect against failure ?

Prosecutions are sometimes unsuccessful, either through the charges being dismissed, or through a failure to secure a conviction.  Relying on recent case law, this presentation will discuss the key reasons why prosecutions fail, and what a council officer can do to enable a more successful  prosecution.

Using recent court decisions and experience as case studies, this presentation will cover the key prosecution risks and provide tools and tips on how to avoid  those risks when conducting an investigation.

Key risks to a successful prosecution which will be addressed include:

  • Limitation period - How is it calculated and what evidence is relevant?  What happens if you are outside the limitation period?

  • Identification of the appropriate defendant - who did the works? who authorised (or ignored) the work? 

  • Identification of the appropriate breach - Does the plan provision need to be identified in the charges? Is a breach of a consent condition sufficient for a successful conviction?

  • Admissible evidence - Was the defendant appropriately cautioned?  Was the search warrant valid?

  • Drafting the charges - What happens if there is a mistake in the charging document? How detailed should the charges be?

Following this presentation, you will have a thorough understanding of how the decisions you make and action you take during your investigation can impact on the ability to achieve a successful outcome, and how to ensure the best outcome.


Wednesday 7th December, 4:15pm


Stephen Quinn
Partner, DLA Piper


Stephen Quinn has depth and breadth of experience acting for Crown entities, SOEs, government departments and local government, with emphasis on resource management (RMA), environmental law, and building law. Stephen has significant involvement in enforcement and prosecution proceedings under the RMA, Building Act, Local Government Act and Health and Safety in Employment Act.


Kate Rogers
Senior Associate, DLA Piper


Kate works in the Resource Management and Local Government team, advising clients on all aspects of resource management and other regulatory issues.  Kate has had significant involvement in environmental enforcement action, including investigations, abatement notices, enforcement orders and prosecutions. Kate has also been involved in other regulatory proceedings, including enforcement proceedings under the Building Act.


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