New Zealand Law
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The legislation draws a distinction between domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, and also has specific provision for control of dogs. Cats are not regulated in this fashion, but if they are owned by somebody, and cause damage, then the owner will be liable.
If cats are causing a nuisance by noise and smell, then the key is finding and proving that the evidence that those particular cats are causing the problem. This evidence could be obtained by photographs or even possibly by capturing the animal and checking the ownership with a microchip, if one is installed on the cat.
The number of cats you can keep is sometimes regulated by the local council. Not all councils have restrictions, and if your local council does not have a maximum number, then you are entitled to keep these cats. If your council does have a maximum number, then they can ask you to reduce to the legal number. If they are charging you with something, it would be helpful if you told me what is on the council documents and I can make suggestions
It depends what the charge is. What have you been charged with?
Which city are you in so I can look at the bylaw? they are different for each city.
Under this section there is a maximum fine of $5000 but you cannot go to jail for this. This is why you cannot get legal aid, because generally legal aid is only available for cases where you may get a jail sentence. But the council have to prove their case first.
Have you been given a summons to appear in court?
The bylaw says that
"7 Obligations of animal owners in public places (1) The owner of any animal in a public place must at all times – (a) ensure that animal does not intimidate or cause a nuisance to any other person; and ensure that animal does not damage any property belonging to any other person in a public place;"
There is no power under this bylaw to require you to remove some of the cats. They must also be able to prove that there has been damage and nuisance. That seems a very large amount of material about the issues, and I am not sure they have the right section for the maximum fine. They would have needed a warrant to search your property under the Search and Surveillance Act and should have shown you any warrant before searching. Did they show you a warrant?
As I see it they will not have an easy job proving this case against you
But unfortunately legal aid is not available.
I think you may have defences available but this would be hard without a lawyer. You could see the Community Law Centre at
The Tasman Building16-22 Anzac AvenueAuckland CBD
It seems a lot of effort over five cats
Are your neighbours hostile?
As I read the law, they can only stop you if they proved a nuisance and damage to someone. There would need to be a lot of evidence about this and photos and witnesses. I assume the papers they gave you include all of this. But even if you lose the judge will not fine you a large amount if you cannot pay a fine, and you would only pay court costs and not the legal fees of the council.
Do you think some mediation would help?
If you were to have a mediation involving the neighbours who object, then this would get rid of the court case if the council agree. I would suggest you get a professional mediator who would set up a meeting where you can talk about the issues and a confidential and safe way. This would stop the council harassing you. I can tell you where to find mediators if you want, but you would have to get the council and neighbours to agree to this before
When you go to court you could talk to the council lawyer and ask them if it is possible to deal with this by way of a neighbourhood mediation. They might ask for an adjournment if they agree, and this could be set up. You could tell the judge that you would like to look at mediation to try and resolve this issue, and they would mostly be helpful
That is why you should discuss this with the Council at the court tomorrow and ask about mediation. If they won't listen to you, then you need to enter a not guilty plea and ask for a hearing.
You can ask until you think you have what you need. Court costs are usually about $200, and if they get a fine it will be dependent on your personal circumstances. It is not up to the Council as to enforcement of the fine, but up to the collections department of the court. They will certainly let you pay this off if you get a conviction and if you get fined. It is just an ugly threat to make you back down to suggest they will put a charge on your house and take it. It's not very professional
If they get a conviction and the court fines you, they can only do this again with fresh evidence of new noise and smells. You can still keep your cats as they cannot stop you
You will need to tell your side of the facts. Is the case tomorrow the first appearance in court for this charge?
Do you have any friends or neighbours who could say something to support you?
You wont need them there tomorrow as you will be there just for the plea to be entered
If you plead not guilty the court will set a date for the hearing
That will likely be some months away, so if they agree to mediate that could happen. If they wont, then it gives you time to find a witness
Thats a pity
But if you enter a not guilty plea tomorrow, I may be able to find someone who can do the case pro bono (for free that is)
Great-the cats are very cute!
That sounds like another threat which is a pity. It does not seem very constructive. Is the files they sent to you recently?
Once again I think they are bullying you. If there is any order made against you, it is the collections department at the District Court who will decide on enforcement and they will let you pay this off. To say it is going against your house is threatening and an unfortunate abuse of power in my view
So I may be able to find a lawyer to act pro bono, that is, free
I will work on this and get back to you
I dont know if that is a good idea, as it would start the process again
They appear to be bullies who dont like mediating as they may have to be seen to be treating you badly
That is hard to tell without looking through the papers
Yes and good night!
You can attach files but you need to scan them into your computer and save as a pdf file. You may want to conceal any names and addresses as the documents are not secure here
Not yet, but there may come a time when this would be useful
Hi, I had to go out, but I will read all of this and answer in the morning
I will send you a more detailed reply a little later
I have had an opportunity to do some cases in Auckland myself and could fit this in. I will be in Auckland and could meet with you to talk about the case in person and so you could meet me. Would that work?
Wednesday through to Saturday, so we would need to have a specific time as I am at meetings
Lets start by a phone connection
Thats great thanks