WorkSafe New Zealand v Whakaari Management Ltd [2021] NZDC 3971

Published 01 June 2021

Application for in-court media coverage — principle of open justice — access to justice — WorkSafe prosecution — Whakaari/White Island eruption — exposing an individual to risk of harm or illness — adjournment — lawyer to assist. This hearing was to determine applications filed by six media outlets for in-court media coverage of the Whakaari/White Island prosecutions by WorkSafe New Zealand. The applications were unopposed. The Judge granted the applications and noted that if any other media outlets wished to cover the proceedings they could file an application with the Court. Arguments as to the appropriate office of filing were deferred until the next hearing to give the defendants a settled position on their plea and potential issues of severance and joinder. The Judge granted an adjournment of pleas on the basis of outstanding disclosure. The next hearing was to be heard in the Whakatane District Court. The Judge noted that on the basis of access to justice the Ministry of Justice may like to contemplate a live-stream of the hearing to enable those interested in the proceedings and not resident in Whakatane to access and view the proceedings. The Judge also recommended a lawyer to be appointed as counsel to assist. The role of counsel to assist would be to liaise with WorkSafe and those whom WorkSafe considered the lawyer should contact, and obtain views from those in the local and wider community with regards to the location of the trial. The next hearing date was scheduled for 3 June 2021. Judgment Date: 5 March 2021.