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I have been accused of a minor offense, and the process that applies is the Summary Proceeding Act 1957, Section 21.

I have been served notice, and have denied liability for the defense. (I have denied it more then one time, and in unambiguous terms.

The informant is insisting that I either Request a hearing, admit liability and provide a submission or pay the infringement fee. I do not intend to admit liability, nor pay them anything unless the matter has gone before the court.

I object to having to ask for a hearing and would prefer not to do this - but this would still be preferable to acquiescing and paying the fine. I am not adverse to appearing in court to defend myself.

I am having some difficulty working through Section 21 of Summary Proceedings Act. By my - possibly incorrect - reading, the act is silent on what happens if I simply deny liability but to not ask for a hearing.

The informant is claiming that if I do not request a hearing or pay the fine by a certain date, the notice will be referred to the court for collection.

Question - If I unambiguously deny liability but do not ask for a hearing can the informant refer the mater to the district court for unpaid fines without a hearing having taken place?

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    You want the matter to go before court, but you do not want to ask for the matter to go before court...? – user253751 Nov 27 '19 at 17:03
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    @user253751 To me being required to "ask" my acuser implies subservience to my acuser and unfairness in the system. Were this a serious criminal proceeding I would have the right to remain silent and my acuser would have to prove their case, and were it a civil matter my adversary would have to go to court before handing the matter over for collection on the strength of a denial. I should be afforded one of those rights. IMHO (and its worth nothing) If someone denies an offense it should go to court. They should be able to plead no contest if they don't want a hearing. – davidgo Nov 27 '19 at 19:21
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    @davidgo I'm not familiar with summary proceedings. However, from a casual viewpoint, it sounds like you have been asked "do you want to admit liability now and skip the whole process, or do you want to go to court?" and you are saying "nuh uh, neither." – user253751 Nov 28 '19 at 9:32
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    @davidgo Then it seems like you are being pointlessly pedantic? Why does it matter whether the procedure is for you to ask for a hearing, or for them to ask you if you want a hearing and for you to say yes? (again, layman's view) – user253751 Nov 28 '19 at 11:20
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    Is the word "ask" offends you then "demand" a hearing instead... – Tim B Nov 28 '19 at 19:53
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If I unambiguously deny liability but do not ask for a hearing can the informant refer the mater to the district court for unpaid fines without a hearing having taken place?

Yes, but not before they serve you with a reminder notice. Once they have done this, they may "provide particulars" of it to the Ministry of Justice (subsection 3), from which point, upon verification, the district court will be "deemed" to have made an order that you pay the fine (subsection 5).

So, in a nut shell, you can ignore the informant until you receive reminder notice (which they may decide not to serve). Once you have received that, requesting a hearing would be the only way to defend yourself.

The procedure is explained in somewhat simpler terms (than in the Act) here.

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That's the entire point of a summary proceeding.

You're allegedly found committing an offence, that isn't worth the court's time to hear but nevertheless requires some penalty.

The only way to "unambiguously deny liability" is by requesting a hearing and denying liability in the notice of this. The court doesn't care what you say to everybody else, it cares what you say on its record. The reasoning is, if you're so sure you're not guilty of an offence, why haven't you sought to argue this in court? And if you weren't committing the offence, why did the informant serve the infringement notice in the first place?

The act is not silent at all on this. If you don't request the hearing and serve such notice by the date required, you are liable to enforcement action - whether you deny liability out of court is irrelevant.

  • On rereading this it does not answer my question, and is actually incorrect. I'm not asking the court for a hearing, I'm asking my accuser. That is the part I object to. (And it means the court DOES care what I say to others. ) – davidgo Nov 29 '19 at 17:31
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    The court cares only whether a hearing will occur, and the process for getting one is to give notice of that to the informant. You can call it whatever you like if "ask" is something objectionable, but this answer remains correct: you have received notice of an offence and the only useful denial of liability is by asking for a hearing, because anything else is illogical and/or not worth the Court's time. – Nij Nov 29 '19 at 19:19
  • And no, the court still doesn't care what you say. It cares about who followed process and who did not. So far, you're in that second group, unless accepting liability is your actual intention. – Nij Nov 29 '19 at 19:21

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