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  • Tertiary Council appointments process controlled by Council

    Case notes
    Nomination for appointment to Tertiary Council pursuant to s 171(2)(f)(ii) Education Act 1989 required workers’ organisation to be consulted—Council refused to appoint organisation’s sole nominee and sought further nominations from organisation—appointment process stalled—alleged unreasonable failure by Council to consult—Ombudsman held consultation confers no rights on an organisation and that Council controlled appointments process
  • Department of Corrections required to state reasons for security classification

    Case notes
    Prison inmate complained that his security classification had been unreasonably assessed and Ombudsman concluded the Department failed to provide ‘strong reasons’ (which must be stated)—Ombudsman found the Prison officers had based their classification on uncorroborated, unrecorded, verbal statement made by another inmate—Ombudsman upheld complaint based on inequitable situation that would result if prison relied solely on this information, however, the inmate released before any recommendation could be made
  • ACC has responsibility to meet statutory obligations despite uncooperative claimant

    Case notes
    Refusal to compensate for alleged ‘wrongful action’ – independent review of case incomplete because of complainant’s behaviour—treatment and rehabilitation compromised by stand-off between claimant and Corporation—complaints sustained and recommendations made but rejected by Corporation—Accident Insurance Act 1998
  • Local Authority cannot call ‘workshop’ a meeting for purposes of LGOIMA

    Case notes
    Council Workshop—decisions not formally made—requirements of the Act cannot be avoided by calling a meeting a workshop—Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, s 45(1)
  • Accident Compensation payment backdated but delay to repay

    Case notes
    ACC claimant originally declined attendant care payment and review of decision found that claimant was entitled to payments and they should be backdated to 1983—ACC accepted review decision but payments not forthcoming. Claimant’s family complained to Ombudsman and ACC explained it was in the process of calculating amount owed and expected negotiations to begin shortly—Ombudsman kept informed on progress—meetings between ACC and claimant’s family occurred with final amount calculated and preparations made for payment to be forwarded upon appointment of claimant’s property manager—Ombudsman discontinued enquiries
  • Councils required to add to LIM matters on neighbouring property if relevant

    Case notes
    Purchaser requested LIM from Council on property he was considering buying—LIM received and property purchased—after purchaser gained possession he discovered neighbour had building consent to drain storm water into his drain—building consent not referred to in LIM report—purchaser sought removal of drain and records about drain, and reimbursement of legal costs—Council advised its practice was to note consents only on applicant’s file - Ombudsman held Council’s actions unreasonable—Council agreed to pay compensation
  • Failure by health funding body to honour undertaking by predecessor funding body to fund gender reassignment surgery unreasonable

    Case notes
    The Health Funding Authority (disestablished in 2001) was required to consider a complaint against its predecessor (Regional Health Authority) about an agreement by RHA to fund gender reassignment surgery—the RHA had initially agreed to fund this surgery but then changed its policy—the Ombudsman concluded that it was unreasonable for the RHA not to honour this undertaking on the basis of a subsequent change in policy and that its successor, the HFA should remedy the unreasonable actions of its predecessor—the HFA agreed with the Ombudsman’s recommendations to fund the gender reassignment surgery in the manner originally approved—as the HFA was by this time disestablished the matter was passed to the Ministry of Health for completion
  • Inland Revenue provided incomplete advice therefore was unreasonable to decline remission application

    Case notes
    Provisional taxpayer advised by IRD of date tax due—advice relied on was wrong—late provisional tax resulted in ‘Use of Money Interest’ imposed by IRD—remission sought on grounds that taxpayer relied on IRD advice—remission declined as advice considered to be correct on the basis of details originally provided by taxpayer—Ombudsman formed view that information provided by IRD was correct but incomplete therefore decision to decline remission application unreasonable—partial remission appropriate in circumstances
  • Department of Labour reasonable not to investigate accident of primary student on extra-curricular activity

    Case notes
    Primary school student training for cross country competition on mountain road struck by motor vehicle – training sanctioned by school as an extra curricular activity—OSH declined to investigate—father complained to Ombudsman—Ombudsman examined provisions of Health and Safety in Employment Act—satisfied that OSH had no jurisdiction to investigate as accident did not fall within the definitions of ‘place of work’ or ‘work’ in s.2(1) as occurred outside school grounds—Police investigation limited to criminal liability—Ombudsman identified no mechanism in place for ensuring accountability by schools in providing safe environment for students outside school gates—Ombudsman approached OSH, Ministry of Education and Minister of Labour about his concerns – Ministry confirmed it was developing policy to address this and agreed to keep Ombudsman informed—Ombudsman advised complainant he was satisfied OSH’s original decision was reasonable
  • Council should pay for cost of obtaining second legal opinion on straightforward matter raised by complainant

    Case notes
    Property owner disagreed with Council that resource consent was necessary for building house—Council sought external legal advice and billed property owner who refused to pay—Council went to Disputes Tribunal which ordered property owner to pay all legal fees and court costs—property owner complained to Ombudsman who considered legislation and found it to be unambiguous that both the operative and proposed district plans must be complied with—Council agreed issue was straightforward and was aware of legislation and relevant case law—Ombudsman did not consider it necessary for further advice to be obtained on issue—view formed that it was appropriate for Council to exercise discretion under s36(5) of Resource Management Act 1991 and remit charge—in circumstances, Ombudsman also considered it unreasonable for Council not to remit Court and solicitor’s costs payable pursuant to Disputes Tribunal order—recommended all costs be remitted
  • Child Youth and Family’s decision to remove child from care

    Case notes
    The Department of Child, Youth and Family (CYF), now Ministry for Children - Oranga Tamariki, agreed to apologise and reimburse couple’s legal fees following Ombudsman’s finding that CYF’s decision to decline custody of a child was unreasonable and then, when CYF acquiesced following the commencement of a court proceedings, CYF was unreasonable not to reimburse legal costs incurred by the couple
  • Medical Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal outside Ombudsman’s jurisdiction

    Case notes
    Complaint about Medical Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal decision to strike off a doctor and media coverage of the hearing—no jurisdiction to investigate—Ombudsman has discretion to investigate matters of administration with respect to the Health and Disability Commissioner’s investigation into the doctor’s medical practices but only if complainant has sufficient interest in the subject-matter of complaint and consent from the doctor
  • Board of Trustees fails to follow principles of natural justice at disciplinary hearing for expelled student

    Case notes
    Student excluded after initially caught hiding stolen property—at the disciplinary hearing the exclusion decision not based on this incident due to lack of evidence but on history of misdemeanours—parents complained that due process had not been followed in disciplinary process—Ombudsman found that at the disciplinary hearing by school the student had no reasonable indication that the student would be answering to an allegation of continual disobedience—complaint about Board of Trustees’ process sustained and Ombudsman recommended apology, reinstatement of student, and removal of exclusion from student’s records—the Board refused to act on recommendations although the student reinstated for other reasons
  • Department of Corrections revises guidelines on implications for visitors possessing drugs

    Case notes
    Prison banned inmate’s family members from visiting for 12-months after small amount of cannabis found in their possession—the inmate complained that the duration of ban was unreasonable but the Department of Corrections noted it had zero tolerance policy for drugs with an automatic 12-month prohibition order to be placed on anyone found with them on prison property—Ombudsman concluded blanket ban unreasonable and the Department agreed each case to be considered on merits and prepared guidelines for prisons—Ombudsman advised inmate to apply for a review of prohibition order under the new guidelines
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries delays finding options to resolve infestation incurring loss to landowner

    Case notes
    Imposition of quarantine restrictions on land due to noxious plant infestation—no entitlement to compensation for loss of production—unreasonable delay in implementing effective remedy
  • Polytechnic and inadequate complaints procedure to deal with sexual harassment complaint—ex gratia payment

    Case notes
    Polytechnic failed to have proper procedures in place to handle complaint from student concerning sexual harassment—Polytech agreed that it had not dealt with the matter with urgency and had an inadequate complaints procedure in place—ex gratia payment was offered to the student for this reason, not because the claims of sexual harassment had been made out, although there was an indication that prima facie a case had been made out that unacceptable behaviour by a tutor had occurred—Polytech apologised, offering ex gratia payment and undertook to improve its complaints handling procedures
  • Local Authority required to withdraw notification of excess water charges

    Case notes
    Charging for water by quantity consumed—notification—charges not based on a bylaw—s26 of the Rating Powers Act 1988