Thursday, September 21, 2006

Section 60

I was in the process of writing a post about Sue Bradford's bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act,* when I came up with some really interesting information. There are two sections under 'Powers of Discipline' which give defences against assault charges. One is Section 59, and has been reasonably well covered. Does anyone know what section 60 of the Crimes Act says? Take a guess.

It says this:

(1)The master or officer in command of a ship on a voyage or the pilot in command of an aircraft on a flight is justified in using and ordering the use of force for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board his ship or aircraft if he believes on reasonable grounds that the use of force is necessary, and if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

(2)Every one acting in good faith is justified in using force in obedience to any order given by the master or officer or pilot in command for the purpose aforesaid, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

(3)The reasonableness of the grounds of which the use of force was believed to be necessary, and the reasonableness of the force used, are questions of fact.

*Currently section 59 gives you an defence if you assault a child as long as you are acting in place of their parent and you're doing is correction.


  1. This is the section that would allow you to say tackle and disarm a terrorist on a flight - or more frequently is how a steward / stewardess gains the authority to quell a drunk / unruly passenger (especially if they were about to open the cabin door).

    Otherwise they would be up for assault.

  2. iiq374 - that's ridiculous, there are other defences available in both those cases, as there is the ability to take those sorts of actions on land.

    carebear this is the defence against hitting anyone - it's not specific to children

  3. Anonymous2:19 pm

    Remember Maia that as captains of a ship/aircraft are in fact legally responsible for the safety of both the aircraft/ship plus the public travelling on said machines. They are in fact the police in these situations. (there not being any other law enforcement officers nearby or readily available)

    I would have it a guess that this section of the Crimes Act is for this situation.

    without some sort of legal protection you wouldnt want to captain a aircraft/ship nor would an insurance company take the risk cover.

    It does not give the passengers cart blanche right to take action, only if commanded to do so by the captain.

    I think you are reading more into this then the tight legal definition and protection offered to those responsible for the safety of passengers and aircraft/ships.

  4. Anonymous2:30 pm

    Had another thought. Under UN conventions regarding safety at sea and air this section may well cover NZ's responsibility towards these conventions.

    Remeber the captains are responsible for disasters like the Exxon oil spill in Alaska and can face criminal prosecution under international law.

  5. Anonymous3:36 pm

    That's pretty much exactly what it's for. Stopping terrorists or somebody opening the door is allowed anyway (you'd plead necessity), but restraining abusive passengers would need explicit authorisation (for the avoidance of doubt, at least).

    The reasonableness test here basically draws the line at restraint; it'd also allow physically taking somebody to be confined to quarters on a ship, for example. It's not the same kettle of fish as section 59, as I don't believe it would allow for hitting somebody in the general case. Corporal punishment of crew aboard ships might be allowed; I don't know of any case law on that, but I suspect it would, given the tradition of it.

    I believe it is also a necessary provision to cover international treaties on the laws of the sea, and similar for aircraft.

  6. Anonymous4:07 pm

    Sorry Maia, but its not exactly clear in your post: What precisley is your objection to section 60?