The Ministry of Labour cannot reopen a Justice of the
Peace's decision to exclude evidence that a worker was injured,
where the defendant company later pleaded guilty to
Occupational Health and Safety Act charges and the
prosecutor accepted the plea.
At trial, the Justice of the Peace decided to exclude the
testimony of the worker who was apparently injured in a workplace
accident. The company then decided to plead guilty to one charge
and the prosecutor withdrew the other charge against the company
and a separate charge against a contractor to the company.
The parties then argued about the fine, and the Justice of the
Peace again excluded the evidence of the apparently injured worker
when setting the fine. Presumably the court imposed a fine that was
lower due to the lack of any evidence about worker injuries.
The Ministry of Labour thought the fine was too low. It appealed
the decision on the fine, and sought on the appeal to reargue the
Justice of the Peace's decision to exclude the worker's
testimony in considering how much the fine should be.
The appeal judge decided that, having "actively
participated" in the guilty plea which ended the trial, the
MOL was bound by the Justice of the Peace's decision to exclude
the worker's evidence about his injury and could not reopen
that issue on appeal. The appeal judge recognized that the result
of his ruling on that issue may well end the appeal, because
evidence about the worker's injury would not be considered in
arguments about the amount of the fine.
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