2 Apr 2015

Maadi legal action 'dangerous precedent'

11:23 am on 2 April 2015

Legal action against a school's decision to ban two of its pupils from a rowing event shows parents can now buy their children out of trouble, a law expert says.

Jack Bell (L) and Jordan Kennedy

Jack Bell, left, and Jordan Kennedy Photo: Facebook

Christchurch's St Bede's College banned Jordan Kennedy and Jack Bell from competing in the Maadi Cup after they rode a baggage conveyor and triggered a security alert at Auckland Airport last month.

The boys' parents sought, and were granted, an interim injunction in the High Court, meaning their sons could row in the event.

A resolution between the school and the boys' parents has been reached, with both parties yesterday announcing no further legal action would take place.

The school's board of trustees said it would not be seeking costs in court.

Dean of University of Canterbury's law faculty Chris Gallavin said the case had set a dangerous precedent because parents could stop school decisions that had an immediate effect on their children.

"This absolutely paves the way for rich parents thinking they might be able to buy their children out of trouble ... who might be in similar circumstances in the future," said Dr Gallavin.

"They'll go for an interim injunction.''

Dr Gallavin said it was likely the boys' parents wrote a cheque to the school in exchange for the board not seeking an order of costs against them.

In a statement released by St Bede's College, the school's lawyer, Garth Gallaway, said the school must be able to deal with disciplinary issues without the fear of parents going to court.

President of the Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand Sandy Pasley said it was a shame the parents chose to seek an injunction but said public response showed strong support for St Bede's College.

She hoped principals would not let this case affect their decision-making.

"I think principals would be very careful and still do what they thought was right.

"We have to also be given the trust that we've got the right judgement and the professional judgement to make around decisions like that."

New Zealand School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr said trustees needed to be confident in the decisions they made and she said this case could shake that confidence.

"I think the biggest worry for all boards is the precedent."

She said schools could not be expected to change the rules, especially for rare cases, such as this one.

The Headmaster of Wellington College Roger Moses also agreed that the legal action showed parents can buy their children out of trouble.

Mr Moses said because of the action, principals now doubted whether punishment handed down was acceptable.

St Bede's College board of trustees chairman, Warren Johnstone, said the school would continue to ensure its behaviour management plans were aligned with the special character of the Catholic school.


  • March 20 - Jordan Kennedy, 17, and Jack Bell, 16, are axed from the school's Maadi Cup rowing team after jumping on the baggage conveyor at Auckland Airport and breaching aviation security.
  • March 23 - The boys' fathers, Shane Kennedy and Antony Bell, won a High Court interim injunction allowing their sons to compete in the Cup.
  • March 25 - The injunction was due to expire at 5pm unless an extension was sought or the boys' parents filed a substantive claim.
  • March 25 - The parents filed for an extension, allowing the injunction to continue, while discussions between the parties continued.
  • March 29 - The Maadi Cup regatta finishes.
  • April 1 - St Bede's College announces the parents will not be taking further legal action and says the school won't be seeking costs.