SPCA New Zealand and Crown Solicitor, Ben Vanderkolk, join forces
Thursday, 16 February, 2012
In a significant step to improve prosecution services in animal welfare throughout New Zealand, Crown Solicitors, Ben Vanderkolk & Associates (BVA) and SPCA New Zealand have signed a MoU to provide best advice and representation.
The relationship will bring credibility and consistency in animal welfare cases taken to Court. BVA has been the Crown firm and the only commercial and private litigation law firm in the Manawatu since 1997.
Through SPCA New Zealand, BVA will provide SPCAs with a combination of pro bono and paid assistance, a service including early response and support, front end assistance, guidance and advice, perusal of search warrant applications, assessment of evidential sufficiency and the drafting of informations for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
BVA can also instruct colleagues in the Crown Solicitor network to make appearances, write all required legal submissions, conduct defended hearings and appeals against conviction and sentence, and monitor sentencing levels for consistency and severity for the purposes of appeals to set tariffs.
“Through the MoU we will draw on the strengths of the Crown Solicitors’ Network throughout New Zealand” said Ben Vanderkolk.
In an excellent example of this partnership, BVA recently successfully prosecuted Grant Michael Teahan, a landmark case which attracted international media attention. Teahan was convicted on two charges of ill-treating native hawks. They also prosecuted cat and dog hoarders, David and Daryl Balfour, after SPCA Inspectors found 161 cats and 87 dogs living in poor conditions in their care.
“We are very excited about the MOU that can benefit all 48 SPCAs across the country. This will assist our inspectors in their work, improving the quality of the cases we bring to courts and thus achieve better sentencing results and better justice for animals ”says Robyn Kippenberger, SPCA New Zealand CEO.
“The service will ensure that our inspectors can have access to consistent, specialist, expert advice in all phases of their investigation, particularly in the crucial early stages.”
Ben Vanderkolk said, “We are very proud to serve and support the RNZSPCA in its demanding and sadly increasing role. We are committed to its cause. The key to successful regulatory enforcement and compliance is acting consistently, making consistent decisions and presenting in Court with credibility.”