Auckland International Airport unreasonable to issue Trespass Notice

Ombudsmen Act 1975
Related legislation:
Trespass Act 1980
Legislation display text:
Ombudsmen Act 1975, Trespass Act 1980
Auckland International Airport
John Belgrave
Case number(s):
Issue date:

Auckland International Airport Ltd—Trespass Notice to shuttle driver unreasonable and unjust—penalty imposed by airport out of proportion in relation to offence

The complainant was issued a Trespass Notice by Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL). His business was to transport passengers to and from airport. He had a ‘physical altercation’ with another driver and the AIAL asked Police to issue the trespass notice to the complainant. As a result of the notice being in force, the complainant was prevented from operating his business.

The Ombudsman notified the complaint, at which point AIAL granted the complainant a ‘pre-charter licence’ which allowed him to operate at the airport provided he did not drive the vehicles himself.

The Ombudsman considered first the issuance of the trespass notice and formed the view that it was unreasonable, oppressive and unjust. The incident that had led to the trespass notice was described by the complainant as placing his hands on the shoulders of another driver and telling her to ‘get away from my van’ after she attempted to tout for customers. The complainant had already expressed remorse for the incident and had lost income of around $2000-$3000 per month following the issue of the trespass notice. This had placed him in a difficult financial position.

The Ombudsman noted that the maximum penalty for common assault was a fine of up to $4000 or up to 6 months in prison. In the circumstances of this case, the complainant could have expected, at most, a nominal penalty (if a charge had been laid). On this basis the Ombudsman considered that the effective penalty imposed by the complainant’s exclusion from the airport for two years was so out of proportion to the nature of the offence as to be unjust, unreasonable and oppressive, especially given the complainant’s expression of remorse and offer of a compromise arrangement.

The complaint against AIAL was sustained and AIAL cancelled the trespass notice following the Ombudsman’s decision.   

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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