Vexatious litigant to pay $11k costs

01:16, May 24 2013
James Reid
RARE CASE: James Reid's access to the court system is restricted.

Woodville's vexatious litigant James Reid's latest attempt to challenge a court ruling has been thrown out and he must pay more than $11,000 in court costs.

"I am satisfied that Mr Reid acted vexatiously, frivolously and improperly in commencing that proceeding," Justice Alan MacKenzie says in a written judgment released by the High Court.

The dispute dates back to March 2008, when Woodville man Graeme Hale's 97-year-old mother died.

The funeral was taken care of by Rose City Funeral Homes, directed by Chester Burt.

Following a disagreement about Mr Hale's share of the bill, Mr Burt obtained a "distress warrant" from the Palmerston North District Court ordering Mr Hale to pay and resulting in the seizure of his car.

That didn't cover the entire debt and the distress warrant remained in place.


However, Mr Reid, who was subsequently appointed a trustee on Mr Hale's family trust, applied to the court to declare the distress warrant invalid and seek a return of property confiscated from Mr Hale.

Mr Reid was last year banned from taking court action without permission from a High Court judge, when he became just the seventh person in New Zealand to be declared a "vexatious litigant".

The distress warrant review was filed before that order was made, but has now been thrown out.

Justice MacKenzie said Mr Reid and the trust had no legal standing to bring an application before the court, as the distress warrant was issued against Mr Hale.

Mr Reid was acting vexatiously by involving himself in matters in which he had no personal interest, Justice MacKenzie said.

"Mr Reid's actions . . . show a pattern of seeking to intervene in proceedings in which he had no legitimate interest and in which his involvement arises only because of his own vexatious litigant tendency."

The judge ordered Mr Reid pay the Palmerston North District Court $11,774 "indemnity costs", although he wasn't ordered to pay any money to the funeral home.

Mr Reid told the Manawatu Standard there was no point in appealing against the costs ruling, as judges were only interested in dealing with lawyers rather than people who represented themselves. "The big problem is if you can't afford a lawyer, you can't get justice."

He was appointed to Mr Hale's family trust and the trust was involved in the matter as some of Mr Hale's confiscated property was tied up with it, Mr Reid said.

Mr Burt hadn't seen the judgment when contacted by the Standard, but thought Justice MacKenzie's comments reflected Mr Reid's "true colours".

Manawatu Standard