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Engaging in Unlawful Unregulated High Risk Activity

The offence of engaging in unlawful unregulated high risk activities is created by section 14 of the Summary Offences Act 2005 which states a person must not unlawfully:

  • parachute or hang-glide onto a building or structure;
  • BASE-jump or hang-glide from a building or structure;
  • climb up or down the outside of a building or a structure;
  • abseil from a building or structure.

A charge for the offence is often laid in conjunction with a charge of trespass because the offence is committed where a person engages in one of the specified actions in, on or from, a building or structure (which are almost always the property of someone else). The maximum penalty is 20 penalty units or 1 year’s imprisonment.

What the Police Must Prove

For a person to be convicted of this offence it must be proved that they:

  • engaged in one of the activities listed under section 14, and
  • had no lawful authority to engage in that activity.

It is important to note that simply having permission from a property owner to perform an activity in, on or from, their property, does not necessarily render your activities lawful. An example of this might be “balcony hopping” on a high-rise or other apartment block. Even if the owners of each apartment consent to, or even encourage, the activity, the subsequent use of the building does not automatically become lawful.

Possible Defences

Under section 14(2), there are three “statutory defences” to a charge of engaging in unlawful unregulated high risk activity:

  • the act involved a building or structure built for use, or designated for use, in the listed activities; or
  • a stunt was performed with the permission of the owner of the building or structure, and the stunt was part of the person’s engagement or employment for the production of a cinematographic film or for television; or
  • the person climbed up or down a building or structure for cleaning, maintaining or repairing the building or structure.

What is the Likely Penalty for Engaging in High Risk Activities?

For a first offence, and providing no significant danger was posed to any person or property (and no damage was caused) by the activity, a fine is likely to be the penalty imposed.

For repeated offending (for instance in the case of people who routinely and regularly engage in BASE jumping activities in urban areas), harsher penalties such as community service or probation orders, and even sentences of imprisonment, are more likely to be imposed.

If you engage in unlawful unregulated high risk activity and need to be rescued as a result, in addition to imposing any other penalty a court is empowered to order that you pay the costs of your own rescue.

Can I Get a Ticket for Engaging in High Risk Activities?

No. A charge of unlawfully engaging in unregulated high risk activity must be heard and determined in a Magistrates Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal..

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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