Foote v New Zealand Police [2022] NZDC 2889

Published 29 March 2022

Appeal — revocation of firearms licence — fit and proper person — time limits for appeal — Arms Act 1983, ss 27(2), 62 & 62B — Legislation Act 2019, s 33 — Accolade Autohire Ltd v Aeromax Ltd [1998] 2 NZLR 15 — Crown Health Financing Agency v P [2009] 2 NZLR 149. The plaintiff appealed against the defendant's decision to revoke his firearms licence on the basis that the plaintiff was not a fit and proper person to be in possession of firearms. After revoking the licence the defendant had given the plaintiff the choice of either surrendering his licence for 12 months or to continue the process of revoking his licence altogether. The plaintiff subsequently informed the defendant that he was refusing to surrender his licence. The following day, an amendment to the Arms Act that changed the process for challenging licence refusals came into force. Among other things, the amendment imposed a time limit for seeking a review of such a refusal, and barred a right of appeal to the District Court until the decision had been reviewed by the Commissioner of Police. The plaintiff had sought for the Commissioner to review the revocation decision, but asked for the review outside the statutory timetable established by the amendment to the Arms Act. At the hearing the defendant argued that the Arms Act amendment applied to the appeal, which was therefore time-barred. The plaintiff made the opposite argument, that the amendment did not in fact apply, because he had not yet begun the review proceedings at the time that the amendment came into force. The Court found that the purpose of the amendment had been to limit the right to appeal. The defendant must have been notified of the change to the legislation before it came into force, and had therefore been required to file an appeal before the amendment commenced. He had failed to do so. The Court dismissed the appeal, but did express concerns about the manner in which the defendant had informed the plaintiff of the option to surrender his licence, finding that the information was expressed in an ambiguous way. Judgment Date: 22 February 2022.

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