Bankruptcy might tip me into retirement - lawyer

Last updated 05:00 24/06/2014

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Lawyer Bob Moodie has failed in an attempt to derail bankruptcy proceedings begun against him by a former employee who is owed more than $240,000.

Moodie said the latest setback was not the end of the case but that, if he was made bankrupt, it could end his career.

"I needed something to nudge me into retirement, and perhaps this will do it."

Moodie, 76, said he was finally coming right after a series of health problems - "there's some gory stuff in there" - over the past 18 months.

Former employee Liz Strachan sued Moodie in the Employment Court. The award she won for lost income, unjustified dismissal, interest, and costs from what the judge described as "a bitter feud" has now topped $240,000.

The money has not been paid, even though some of it was ordered in an Employment Court decision two years ago.

Strachan issued a bankruptcy notice against Moodie in the High Court at Palmerston North last year. The bankruptcy notice demands payment to avoid a bankruptcy application proceeding. Moodie asked the court to set it aside because he had defamation proceedings still pending against her that claimed more in damages than he owed her from the employment case.

However, an associate judge decided it would be "outside any reasonable range of damages" that could have been awarded even if the defamation claim ultimately succeeds.

Moodie appealed against the associate judge's refusal to set aside the bankruptcy notice, but did not pay the money needed to allow the appeal to proceed.

Strachan said the appeal should be struck out and the Court of Appeal yesterday agreed.

The court's judgment said Moodie had not paid security for the costs he might be ordered to pay if the appeal failed, and he had not filed the relevant documents or submissions for his proposed appeal.

Originally Moodie had asked for more time because of ill-health but the Court of Appeal said he had not shown that illness prevented payment now or filed any evidence of his financial position.

In any event, the appeal was hopeless, the court said. It rested on him having a claim against Strachan of at least the amount he owed her. The court did not think there was "any realistic prospect" he might win more than he owed.

It struck out his appeal against the refusal to set aside the bankruptcy notice. It also said Moodie should pay Strachan costs in an amount which has yet to be fixed.

Moodie yesterday took issue with the court's assessment of his prospects in the defamation case.

Strachan could not be contacted for comment.

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- The Dominion Post

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