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Council to appeal High Court ruling on brothels bylaw

4 August 2005

The Christchurch City Council today voted to appeal the High Court decision to quash the council’s brothels bylaw, and will apply for an order to stay the decision pending an appeal outcome.

Furthermore, Council decided that, at an appropriate time, it will seek a  report investigating options to regulate the location and signage of brothels and prostitutes working on the streets.

The Council were told by the Legal Services Team in a report to the Council meeting today that Justice Panckhurst’s High Court decision, finding in favour of  the Willowford Family Trust and Brown, had quashed the brothels bylaw.

This ensures that brothel owners can now set up business anywhere in Christchurch as long as they adhere to zoning provisions and signage restrictions.

Staff advised Council that it could seek an order to stay the Court’s decision which would effectively suspend the operation of the judgement (to quash the bylaw) for however long the Court deemed fit, while Council appealed the decision. An appeal, however,  could take up to a year to pursue, and a stay - if granted - might not run a year.

The Council was also told that drafting a new brothels bylaw would take about six months, taking into account the special consultation process needed before a bylaw could be drawn up.  If a stay was not granted, Council staff wanted a clear message made to all brothel operators regarding this interim period before a new bylaw was enacted.

“Should brothel-owners be found to be operating in areas contrary to any new bylaw, their business would be a non-complying activity. The Council could then shut the business down and they could be convicted of an offence that attracts a fine of up to $20,000.
“For example, if such a business tied itself into a long-term lease to use a suburban building as a brothel, then the new bylaw in six months time might well deem that business a non-complying activity and Council could move to close it and prosecute,” says Council Legal Services Manager Chris Gilbert.

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