Air pollution, Inspections, Criminal, Standing, Jurisdiction, Damages, Admissibility, Administrative, Remedies, Evidence

The applicant in the case, Fiji Taxi Union, was a registered association representing a large number of taxi drivers.  It complained that the Land Transport Authority, the respondent, was using an electronic smoke detection machine to test the exhaust emission from taxis, without having obtained a regulatory approval from the Minister. The applicant therefore meant that the Land Transport Athority was exceeding its powers. The Land Transport Authority also issued defect notices based on the results from the use of the machines. The Taxi Union meant that this was unreasonable, irrational, arbitrary and in excess of the LTA’s jurisdiction. Therefore they sought to remove the decision of the Land Transport Authority to use the machines to issue defect orders.

The first counter by the respondent was that the applicant had no standing in the case. This was refuted by the Court. Second, the respondent meant that the decision was authorised by a general administrative power contained in legislation. It also denied that its acts were unreasonable, irrational or arbitrary. The Land Transport Authority also meant that they had a statutory obligation to ensure the protection of the environment, outweighing any other matter.

It was seen as established that smoke from vehicles, as a by-product of incomplete combustion, was drastically affecting air quality health standards with many serious health effects. However, the Court meant, the sensibility of limiting air pollution was not a mitigating factor if the Land Transport Authority had exceeded its powers.

The Court then acknowledged that the Land Transport Authority did not have any power to make regulations or anything else that had the substantive effect of a regulation. Though the applicant meant that he use of the electronic smoke detection machine must be specified by a regulation, the Court did not agree. Instead, the Court meant that the this decision was of a different character, aimed at creating tools for enforcing existing legislation, also criminal. The Land Transport Authority was therefore not acting in excess of its powers.

Lastly, the Court did not find that the Land Transport Authority had acted unreasonably, irrationally or arbitrarily, as an authority should be expected to use the most modern equipment possibly to ensure the protection of the environment.