Hart bankruptcy decision delay

WILLIAM MACE
Last updated 17:24 13/12/2012

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A decision on whether former top criminal lawyer Barry Hart will be adjudicated bankrupt has been delayed until tomorrow afternoon.

Associate Judge Hannah Sargisson finished hearing arguments from lawyers for both Hart and ANZ Bank this afternoon, but decided to consider her decision overnight.

Sargisson needs to decide whether to grant Hart's application for an adjournment of the bankruptcy proceedings until March.

Hart has been fighting an attempt by ANZ Bank to make him bankrupt in the High Court at Auckland over what was initially about $30 million worth of debt.

Hart has opposed the sale of his eight rural properties north of Auckland which were security for the loans with ANZ. 

He has previously argued that the bank mishandled the sale of his properties and didn't get the best price for them.

But after being knocked back on that argument by the High Court, Hart took his fight to the Court of Appeal and wanted the bankruptcy proceedings to wait while that matter was decided.

Hart's lawyer Jeremy Bioletti told the High Court this morning that the bankruptcy proceedings should be adjourned until the appeal against ANZ's mortgagee sales was settled, because he may be able to pay his debts with any potential damages he is awarded.

However, Associate Judge Hannah Sargisson said she was not of a mind to adjourn the bankruptcy application unless Hart's lawyer could show there was potential for him to pay the substantial debt in the future.

Bioletti argued that Hart would show at the appeal that the properties were undersold by more than his remaining indebtedness of $17m - the balance of the debt after the mortgagee sales.

He said Colliers had valued the properties at $29m but the three "main properties" had apparently been sold by ANZ for $8m at mortgagee sale, meaning his potential damages outweighed his debt.

Earlier this week Hart was at the High Court fighting a decision to strike him off the roll of barristers and solicitors, with a decision on that appeal due next February.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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