Changes to road and driving laws
The Land Transport (Road Safety and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2011 (‘the Act’) came into effect last year as a response to public demands for better protection for young drivers. Calls for legal reform were motivated by the over-representation of young drivers in crash statistics.
The 2010 Ministry of Transport ‘Young Driver Crash Facts’ document reported drivers aged 15-24 were involved in 112 fatal crashes, 755 serious injury crashes and 3617 minor injury crashes for the year ending 31 December 2009.
The Act introduces significant changes to our road laws, the blood alcohol concentration level for drivers aged 20 or younger has decreased from 0.03 to zero. The minimum age for obtaining a driver’s licence increases from 15 to 16 years, along with further restrictions on the eligibility criteria for applying for licences in each category. As of 1 August 2011, the minimum criteria for obtaining a licence are as follows:
|Learner licence||16 years old.|
|Restricted licence||16½ years old. Must have held a learner licence for at least six months.|
|Full licence(option 1)||18 years old. Must have held a restricted licence for at least 18 months.|
|Full licence(option 2)||17½ years old. Must have held a restricted licence for at least 12 months, and have completed an approved advanced driving course.|
Stricter rules on restricted licences came into force 27 February of this year. These include making the practical driving tests more challenging. Learner drivers will also be encouraged to gain at least 120 hours of supervised driving experience before attempting their restricted licence tests. Although no proof is necessary, the challenging practical tests are designed to allow only those with sufficient driving experience to be successful.
The Act provides transitional provisions for drivers who entered the application process prior to the changes taking effect on 1 August 2011.
A driver may be granted an exemption to obtain a restricted licence at an age younger than 16½ if they:
- are at least 16 years old,
- have held a learner licence for at least 6 months, and
- have a clean driving record.
A driver may be granted an exemption to obtain a full licence at an age younger than 18 if they:
- are at least 16 years old,
- have held a restricted licence for at least 18 months (reduced to 12 months if they have successfully completed an approved advanced driving course), and
- have a clean driving record.
Changes to ‘Give-Way Rules’
Major changes will also take place in March this year to our give-way rules. From 25 March 2012 at 5:00 am, all traffic turning right will be required to give way to a vehicle coming from the opposite direction and turning left at cross-roads, T-intersections and driveways where:
- both vehicles are facing each other with no signs or signals,
- both vehicles are facing give way signs,
- both vehicles are facing stop signs, or
- both vehicles are facing green traffic signals.
For further information; please visit the NZ Transport Agency.
Bill introduced to prevent foreign abuse of New Zealand company laws
Despite our notable reputation as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, New Zealand remains subject to criticism for its weak company laws, which are too easily exploited by international crime syndicates. There is concern that loop-holes in our laws allow foreign fraudsters to set up shell companies in New Zealand, which are then used to conduct fraud such as tax evasion and money laundering overseas.
It has been reported that over the past five years 150 New Zealand registered companies have committed serious offences in overseas jurisdictions, including drug, human and arms trafficking. A further 1000 companies have been identified by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as potentially being involved in international financial fraud. Late last year 829 separate companies were registered as having the same office in Johnsonville. An investigation by the Ministry of Economic Development has so far seen 1800 companies struck off the Companies Register for failing to provide evidence of legitimacy.
The concern that inadequacies in our domestic legislation could cause serious detriment to our international trade has resulted in a call for law reform. The Companies and Limited Partnerships Amendment Bill (‘the Bill’) was introduced to Parliament on 13 October 2011. Its purpose is to strengthen our company laws. If passed by Parliament, the Bill will amend the Companies Act 1993 (‘the Companies Act’) by:
- requiring each company registered in New Zealand to have a director or agent to be resident in New Zealand,
- granting additional powers to the Registrar of Companies to investigate and manage non-compliant companies,
- banning directors of non-compliant companies from assuming management positions in other companies for up to five years,
- striking companies off the Companies Register for supplying inaccurate information or continued non-compliance with the Companies Act,
- better aligning requirements under the Companies Act with the Limited Partnerships Act 2008 to prevent similar exploitations, and
- classifying serious breaches of directors’ duties as criminal offences.
The Government is also intending to introduce anti-money laundering legislation in 2013 to further safeguard and scrutinise the operation of companies. In a report titled “Strengthening New Zealand’s Resistance to Organised Crime”, the Ministry of Justice also proposes new laws to:
- a improvement of domestic and international information sharing,
- enhance anti-money laundering and crime proceeds recovery measures,
- reduce misuse of current legal arrangements,
- protect against cyber-crime,
- prevent corruption and bribery, and
- disrupt identity crimes.
It is hoped that these initiatives will give greater confidence in our domestic company laws and restore our image as a safe country in which to conduct business.
We have joined Facebook and we want you to join us. Like our Facebook page ‘McLeods Lawyers’ between 1 March 2012 – 31 March 2012 and you will enter the draw to win a $50.00 gift voucher for Makana Confections.
The draw will be done on 2 April 2012 and the winner will be notified through Facebook.
Our Facebook page has links to articles related to New Zealand law, our past Newsletters and will keep you up to date with what is happening at McLeods Lawyers.
New Year News
In February we welcomed Odette Colebrook at reception and Emma Webb in accounts to our team, which now includes, Stacey Price (Sarah Jury’s assistant), Judith Graham (Graeme McLelland’s assistant) and Simone Scully (Sue Wooldridge’s assistant).
Also in February Graeme moved the admission to the bar of Kate Eastwood formerly of Kerikeri, following her completion of a law/science degree. Kate now works at Minter Ellison in Auckland.
All information in this newsletter is to the best of the authors’ knowledge true and accurate. No liability is assumed by the authors, or publishers for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon this newsletter. It is recommended that clients should consult a senior representative of the firm before acting upon this information.