Cases of interest: May 2017

A summary of interesting or topical employment cases.

ASG v Hayne, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Otago [2017] NZSC 59

Supreme Court – Whether respondent breached name suppression order

The Supreme Court was asked to consider whether the respondent had breached a name suppression order made under s 200 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. The appellant had been discharged without conviction. The District Court had made an order suppressing publication of his name and other details, but an employee of the respondent who was present at the hearing disclosed the details to the respondent.

The Supreme Court held that s 200 generally covers word of mouth communications, as well as media publications (see para 66). However, “it is necessary for the courts to work out the scope of the prohibition on a case-by-case basis” (see para 69). In this case, the Court held that disclosure to the respondent did not breach s 200 because the respondent had a genuine interest in knowing about the charges at hand (see para 82-87).

Link to case (external link)

Brill v Labour Inspector [2017] NZCA 169

Court of Appeal – Interpretation of s 234 of the Employment Relations Act 2000

The Court of Appeal was asked to consider the now repealed s 234 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. The questions for the appeal were:

  • What threshold must be established before a Labour Inspector can be authorised to recover a default against any officer, director or agent of a company who had directed or authorised that default; and
  • What does a Labour Inspector have to prove to establish that an officer, director or agent directed or authorised the default?

The Court held that a Labour Inspector must prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the company in question cannot pay the amount owed, and there that there is “a tenable cause of action” against the officer, director or agent of the company (see para 17).

With regards to the second question, the Court held that the Labour Inspector must prove that the person had actual knowledge of the default (see para 20). The Court considered that directing or authorising a default “requires the taking of some positive action and that mere passivity is not enough” (see para 23). This knowledge can often be inferred from conduct.

Link to case (external link)

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