Woman beats council, courts on dog charge

STEVE HOPKINS
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012

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A woman has won a battle with Auckland Council and the courts after getting a charge that her dog rushed at another person thrown out.

According to a High Court decision released this week, Jane Siemer was sent a council infringement notice on May 21, 2011, alleging she allowed her dog to ''rush at another person''.

The following day Seimer wrote to the council disputing the offence took place and seeking evidence to back up the accusation.
 
In July they wrote back informing her the incident in question took place on Clansman Tc, Gulf Harbour, but refused to name the witness. However, the council said those details would be made available in court if Siemer wished to defend the matter.

On July 7 the council informed Siemer her request for a hearing had been granted. Siemer said she heard nothing further about the matter until she called the council on December 13, 2011.

During that conversation she was told a hearing would take place on February 21, 2012. According to the decision, she asked for those details to be confirmed at a later date, but never heard back.

On February 6 Siemer's husband emailed the council seeking details of the hearing, but again didn't hear back.

When the matter was heard on February 21 Siemer wasn't present and Justices of the Peace fined her $300 and ordered her to pay $132.50 court costs.
 
After learning of the outcome, Siemer sought a re-hearing, which was declined without any reason.

She challenged at the High Court, asking for her conviction to be overturned and her request for a re-hearing to be further considered.

According to the High Court decision the Justices of the Peace convicted Siemer under a section of the Summary Proceedings Act that didn't exist and they had no ''statutory authority'' to do so.

The High Court found her application for judicial review ''must be granted'', but ''in the interests of justice'' concluded the most appropriate outcome was to withdraw the conviction and fine.

It also found Siemer was eligible for costs and gave the council and counsel for the District Court - who heard the original matter - until Friday to make submissions on how to address that.

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- Auckland Now

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