One of the complications of bylaws is the different enforcement provisions that apply, depending on the activity being regulated.
Bylaws are taken far more seriously when infringement fines apply. However, this enforcement measure can only be taken where there is either legislation or a regulation providing for the issuing of infringement notices.
- Breaches of alcohol bans – section 239A of the Local Government Act 2002
- Dogs – section 66 of the Dog Control Act 1996
- Parking – section 139 of the Land Transport Act 1998
- Freedom camping – section 27 of the Freedom Camping Act 2011
- Navigation safety – where specific regulations are set for each area, for example Queenstown Lakes District Council (Shotover River).
For many other bylaws, infringement notices are not an option. If warnings and seizing of equipment doesn’t work, there are limited options: applying to the District Court for an injunction to restrain a person from committing a breach of the bylaw, or taking a person to court. If convicted, a fine of up to $20,000 applies. However, the cost, time and uncertainty associated with this option is a major disincentive for councils to take this action, potentially rendering a bylaw quite toothless.
The Government could enable councils to more effectively and efficiently administer bylaws by enabling infringement fines to apply for all bylaws.