Health and safety insights and analysing the Whakaari eruption trial

  • Podcast

    28 February 2024

 Health and safety insights and analysing the Whakaari eruption trial Desktop Image  Health and safety insights and analysing the Whakaari eruption trial Mobile Image


In this episode, Partner Matthew Ferrier and Senior Associate Mark Calderwood discuss the current landscape of health and safety prosecutions in New Zealand. 

They analyse the trends and statistics from recent years, examining the focus of the regulator, WorkSafe, and its enforcement activities. The discussion focuses on the implications of the Whakaari White Island trial's liability decisions. The hosts also dissect the outcomes of the recent health and safety prosecutions, exploring the legal implications and potential shifts in WorkSafe's future enforcement activities and strategies. This insightful episode provides a comprehensive overview of the health and safety litigation landscape, offering valuable insights for businesses. 

[00:01:09 -00:05:54] Matthew and Mark talk about the regulator’s focus for 2024. They talk about WorkSafe investigations trending down and the reform agenda for the new government

[00:06:21 - 00:10:11] Mark gives an overview of the Whakaari White Island eruption case. Matthew talks about aspects in charging decisions, with an emphasis on pushing enforcement activity up the contracting chain. They talk about observations on the dismissal of charges against directors.

[00:10:35 - 00:13:06] Matthew and Mark talk about the court's emphasis on individual duties and potential focus on individual officers during investigations. They outline implications for future investigations and charges against individual officers.

[00:13:25 - 00:18:18] Matthew and Mark discuss the benefits of entering an early guilty plea.

[00:18:49 - 00:21:57] Matthew and Mark give an overview of the 12-month limitation period for filing charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. They talk about the possibility that WorkSafe may apply to the court to extend the 12-month limitation period to complete their investigation in appropriate cases (noting the advantages and disadvantages of this for both WorkSafe and prospective defendants).

[00:23:04 - 00:28:29] Finally, Matthew and Mark give an overview of recent trends and decisions, including cases involving AFFCO New Zealand Ltd and NZ Ski Ltd. They discuss a recent case regarding whether a trust could be charged as a PCBU and the complex implications of that decision for trustees (particularly corporate trustees)

Information in this episode is accurate as at the date of recording, 14 February 2024.

Please get in touch to receive an episode transcript. Please don’t forget to rate, review or follow MinterEllisonRuddWatts wherever you get your podcasts. You can also sign up to receive litigation updates via your inbox here.

Please contact Mark Calderwood, Matthew Ferrier or our Litigation team if you need legal advice and guidance on any of the topics discussed in the episode.

You can read our full Litigation Forecast 2024 article on health and safety litigation here.