6 Mar 2019

Minister: No prosecutions over CTV building deaths after law change

10:53 am on 6 March 2019

Justice Minister Andrew Little says scrapping a law allowing those responsible for causing a death to avoid prosecution had been long overdue, but it had been right not to apply the reform retrogressively.

The "year-and-a-day law" meant that no one could be held criminally responsible for a death that occurred more than a year and a day after an act that contributed to the person dying.

The contentious law was one of the main reasons why police decided not to bring manslaughter charges against two engineers who designed the CTV building, which collapsed in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake, killing 115 people. No prosecutions over the deaths will be brought forward, Mr Little said.

The law was struck from the law books last night, as the government's Crimes Amendment Bill passed unanimously.

Mr Little told Morning Report the law should have been struck off the books 'many years ago' and that it would improve the way the criminal justice system dealt with acts of negligence that led to deaths.

But he said the law would rightfully not apply to negligent acts dating before the law change.

"The reality is one of the fundamental principles of changing our criminal laws is we don't accept retrospectivity - something that was lawful today but by change of law is unlawful tomorrow, doesn't mean that you are then liable for what you did today," he said.

"That principle applies and is confirmed the Crimes Act, it is in the New Zealand Bill of Rights and we're not turning that over."

The law was also the reason why police could not lay further charges against the man who king-hit George Siaosi in Auckland in September 2015. Mr Siaosi died in January, 2017 - 15 months after the incident.

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