18 December 2007

The Lobbies and Fighting in Public

> DomPost: "Mallard pleads guilty to fighting charge" > LAWS179: "Parliamentary privilege and the fracas in the lobby" I see Trevor Mallard has pleaded guilty to a charge of fighting in a public place under the Summary Offences Act 1981. Although the guilty plea is understandable to resolve the prosecution, it's interesting to look at the offence. I can't see how the charge would have been made out, because the Lobbies of the House surely don't qualify as a "public place"?
s7 Fighting in public place Every person is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000 who fights in a public place.

2 Interpretation Public place means a place that, at any material time, is open to or is being used by the public, whether free or on payment of a charge, and whether any owner or occupier of the place is lawfully entitled to exclude or eject any person from that place; ...

As a member of the public, have you ever tried to walk into the Lobbies while Parliament is sitting? I don't think so!

> Parliament: "Ayes Lobby" (Picture)


David Farrar said...

Heh I have had pizza in the lobbies while the House was sitting but did then get evicted by the Speaker!

Nigel Kearney said...

In Caithness v Police (1986) 2 CRNZ 201, Jeffries J held that the banquet hall of Parliament was a public place for purposes of the act even when it was being used for a function with invitations being checked at the door.

Not a very good decision, in my view. But I think it is still the law.

Dean Knight said...


Yes. I noted that in the Adams commentary. However, it probably doesn't apply. The banquet hall, with invited guests, is different to the Lobbies. Only MPs in their parliamentary duties and other employees are permitted into the Lobbies. Quite simply there's no public element.

Rich said...

I suspect Mallard just pleaded guilty to get rid of the idiot pursuing him, as you say.

Can you say "vexacious litigant"?

Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"

This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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