Moodie ordered to pay $40,000-plus to avoid bankruptcy

Last updated 18:13 15/02/2008

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A High Court judge has ordered flamboyant lawyer Rob Moodie to pay more than $40,000 to the solicitor-general within three weeks to avoid being made bankrupt.

Lawyers cannot practise while bankrupt, but Dr Moodie told NZPA today that he would probably pay the money owing as well as appeal the judgment or seek a "review of the decision which I believe is wrong in law".

Last March the High Court in Wellington found Dr Moodie, through his alter ego Miss Alice, had committed contempt of court and ordered him to pay nearly $32,000 costs and disbursements to Solicitor-General David Collins QC.

Subsequently the High Court and Court of Appeal awarded further costs against Dr Moodie totalling more than $17,500 - of which Dr Moodie has paid $5000, according to the reserved judgment of Associate Judge David Gendall released today.

Associate Judge Gendall said Dr Moodie contended that the solicitor-general's bankruptcy notice was invalid primarily because it did not state his full name and address as required by the Insolvency Act.

Although Associate Judge Gendall found the bankruptcy notice "arguably defective in a relatively minor way", he declined Dr Moodie's application to set it aside.

The notice was stayed for 15 working days to enable Dr Moodie to pay the debt. If it was not paid the solicitor-general was "free to take further steps" in the bankruptcy proceeding. Dr Moodie had claimed in court that the solicitor-general's aim was to remove him as counsel for King Country farmers Margaret and Keith Berryman in a misfeasance case, which Dr Moodie said "involved serious allegations of corruption against the Crown".

Dr Moodie was suspended from practice for three months last year after being found guilty of contempt for publishing a secret report on the internet about the construction of the bridge leading to the Berrymans' farm that later collapsed and killed beekeeper Kenneth Richards.

There were still two High Court cases and one in the Court of Appeal relating to the Berrymans, Dr Moodie told NZPA today.

So far two orders of costs had gone in their favour but the court had not quantified them, saying they would be dealt with "in the wash-up".

"Having persuaded the court to that, the Crown then demands payments from me," he said.

"It is part of the cat and mouse game going on."

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