Ratepayers to fork out for 'irrelevant argument'

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013

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Napier ratepayers look likely to face a bill of about $500,000 after their council's bid to appeal against a High Court decision was declined, partly because the council's lawyer referred to irrelevant legislation.

Justice Lowell Goddard has declined Napier City Council's application for leave to appeal against a High Court decision concerning a property the council leased from Wellington company Cityscape.

The council claimed it was entitled to convert the second floor of Tourism House in Dickens St from three office spaces into one, and to leave it that way.

Cityscape said it had a lease agreement requiring the council to restore the premises to its original configuration.

An arbitrator, Justice Robert Dobson in the High Court, ruled in favour of Cityscape.

The council's application for leave to appeal against that decision to the Court of Appeal was heard in the High Court at Wellington on November 22.

Justice Goddard said the leave to appeal concerned only the issue of whether Cityscape incurred costs of reinstatement within six months of the lease ending, but council lawyer John Upton, QC, did not confine his application to this point and sought instead to "re-argue the question on an entirely new ground".

She said his arguments had "no relevance to the situation of the parties to the subject arbitration", and awarded costs to Cityscape.

The original cost of reinstating the premises is disputed between the parties, and ranges between about $200,000 and $300,000.

Lawyer John Parker said the cost to Cityscape, including various costs and legal fees, was now closer to $500,000.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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