New Zealand Law Society - Committee supports bill changing dog control provisions

Committee supports bill changing dog control provisions

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Parliament's Primary Production Committee has released its report on the Dog Control (Category 1 Offences) Amendment Bill. The Committee recommends that it be passed with the proposed amendments.

This is a Member’s bill introduced by Ian McKelvie on 3 May 2018.

The intention of the bill is to reduce the time for some charges to be heard under the Dog Control Act 1996 and to improve the welfare of the dogs involved in prosecutions under the Act by reducing the time they spend at impounding facilities while proceedings are being carried out.

Proposed amendments would allow JPs and Community Magistrates to hear category 1 offences as defined in s6(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 (CPA).

Clause 4 of the bill inserts a new s64A which would exclude three offences (set out in 32(2), 54(2), and 57(2)) from the list of offences that could be heard by a JP or Community Magistrate. The committee recommends that s54(2) be removed from excluded offences.

Sections 32(2) and 57(2) were excluded because they have an exceptional circumstances test. The committee would recommend that four more offences that include legal tests should be excluded, s57A(2) (dogs rushing at persons, animals or vehicles), s61(2) (dogs worrying stock), s62(4) (allowing dogs known to be dangerous to be at large muzzled) and s78(3) (possessing a dog in contravention of the Act).

As introduced the bill would exclude certain category 1 offences from a Community Magistrate’s jurisdiction and reduce their ability to hear some offences. Section 356 of the CPA allows Community Magistrates to hear any category 1 offences with a penalty below $40,000, regardless of whether they are named in the legislation. The committee therefore recommends amending clause 4 and inserting new s66A to remove the reference to ‘Community Magistrate’.