The Supreme Court rejected an attempt by local food company Talley’s Group to challenge the validity of accusations it didn’t do enough to prevent an accident that paralysed one of its workers. 

Worksafe NZ charged Talley’s for failing to ensure the safety of an employee who was paralysed in May 2015 when she was hit by a falling bulk bin knocked over by a forklift. Talley’s pleaded not guilty, but also challenged the validity of the charge and the way Worksafe went about prosecuting it. 

The regulator’s original charge was thrown out by Judge Joanna Maze in the Ashburton District Court, who found Worksafe’s practices were unjustifiable and amounted to circumventing the limitation period set by legislators. 

While the High Court agreed the charges were defective, Justice John Faire didn’t agree it was an abuse of process, saying that “while concerning, the prosecutorial behaviour was not as plainly abusive as Judge Maze concluded” and giving Worksafe the benefit of the doubt. 

The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court, saying Worksafe’s flawed charging practice was not “so egregious as to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the judicial process” and, while the document was defective, it needn’t be nullified. 

Justices Susan Glazebrook, Mark O’Regan and Ellen France today dismissed Talley’s application to take its appeal to the country’s highest court. Talley’s claimed the Court of Appeal was wrong to rely on the summary of facts, and was wrong not to order a stay, given the lack of particularity in the charging documents. 

“The arguments Talley’s wishes to raise to support the contention the approach taken has given rise to a miscarriage of justice were carefully evaluated by the Court of Appeal,” the judges said. “Nothing raised by Talley’s suggests that a miscarriage of justice arises from that evaluation.”

The judges said there wasn’t a question of general or public importance and that they didn’t see an apparent miscarriage of justice. 

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