WorkSafe New Zealand v Centreport Ltd [2018] NZDC 15394

Published 12 July 2019

Application for disputed facts hearing — WorkSafe prosecution — PCBU — cause of death — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 ss 36, 48 — Sentencing Act 2002 s 24 — R v Whiunui CA 212/05 — Pokai v R [2014] NZCA 35. The prosecution applied for a disputed facts hearing regarding the cause of death of the defendant's employee. The defendant opposed the application, having already pleaded guilty to the charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was alleged the deceased was working on an unsecured ladder on a container and that the deceased fell from height due to the unstable ladder, causing his death. The prosecution alleged this was a failure in establishing safe work systems regarding the use of ladders on containers. The prosecution submitted that the restorative justice, reparation, and the assessment of the defendant's level of culpability would be affected if the defendant did not accept that this failure caused the employee's death. The defendant argued that the prosecution was attempting to re-open the agreed summary of facts addressing causation. The defendant argued that the prosecution was aware of the defendant's position prior to negotiating and agreeing on the summary of facts and that even if it were advanced it would not reach the evidential standard of proven beyond reasonable doubt. The Judge noted that causation was not an element of the offence and the agreed summary of facts did not contemplate causation. However, causation was relevant to assessing culpability and reparations. For that reason, the Judge vacated the set date of sentencing and granted the disputed facts hearing. Judgment Date: 27 July 2018.