Court of Appeal upholds prostitution by-law decision

Court of Appeal upholds prostitution by-law decision

Posted On: Wednesday, 28 November 2007

An appeal lodged in the Court of Appeal to quash the Hamilton City Council Prostitution Bylaw 2004 was today dismissed.

Three Court of Appeal judges today unanimously agreed to dismiss the appeal lodged by Ms Julie Conley, owner of Hamilton brothel Toni’s Escort Agency. The decision also included an order for the respondent to pay costs of $6,000 plus usual disbursements to Council.

The Prostitution Reform Act 2003 entrusted local government with the responsibility for regulating the location of brothels as a response to nuisance or offensive behaviour. In 2004, Council passed a bylaw that established a permitted zone for brothels and prevented them from being located within 100 metres of ‘sensitive sites’. The permitted zones consist of the city centre zone, the commercial service zone and the industrial zone of the city.

Ms Conley argued that the bylaw was unreasonable because the permitted zone effectively, in her view, amounted to a prohibition of the establishment of commercial sexual services in Hamilton. The court rejected Ms Conley’s argument stating that brothels would still be permitted in a large area of the city.

Hamilton mayor Bob Simcock says that the ruling was a clear vindication of Council’s bylaw and testament to the high level of consultation and research that was applied during the formation of the bylaw.

“The Court of Appeal has recognised that the bylaw implemented by Hamilton City Council represents a fair and reasonable interpretation of the national legislation. Council formed a bylaw that reflected the desires of the community whilst ensuring realistic, safe and practical solutions for the operation of the sex industry in the city.

“It was also reassuring for the city to hear the judges’ comment that in a case such as this where Council’s are considering questions of social policy under national legislation guidance, where there is an absence of any real Bill of Rights concern, the courts should be very slow to intervene.”

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