Man a 'vexatious litigant' court rules

Last updated 16:41 31/08/2009

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An undischarged bankrupt who brought a "plethora" of court cases over the years in a bid to have his bankruptcy overturned has been declared a "vexatious litigant".

A two-judge bench of the High Court in Christchurch ordered that David Stanley Heenan was not allowed to start any more court action without permission.

In their reserved judgment, Chief High Court Judge Tony Randerson and Justice Hugh Williams said they had no doubt that the proceedings Heenan brought "thoroughly deserve to be described as vexatious".

They included what the judges said were extravagant and baseless allegations against a number of people including judges.

"We are satisfied the time has well and truly come when a stop must be brought to Mr Heenan's litigious activities.

"The resources of the judicial system should no longer be squandered on him.

"Nor should the opponents to his litigation be any further harassed," the judges said.

Heenan was adjudicated bankrupt in December 2000 when judgment was entered against him in Alexandra District Court over a dishonoured $20,000 cheque.

He always maintained that the date on the cheque had been fraudulently altered.

A court-appointed lawyer said Heenan had brought the proceedings out of a genuine sense of grievance.

Issues relating to the cheque, he said, had not been properly explored and there were reasonable grounds for the proceedings Heenan started.

The judgment said that two previous judges had expressed "unease" about the cheque alteration.

In a statement of claim the Attorney-General said there were 13 separate proceedings instituted by Heenan or his family trusts relating to the dishonoured cheque and Heenan's subsequent bankruptcy, a Queenstown property that was sold in a mortgagee sale, and three vintage cars.

The judges said that nine years after his insolvency hearing, Heenan was still an undischarged bankrupt.

"The Official Assignee has consistently opposed Mr Heenan's discharge from bankruptcy asserting that Mr Heenan has a vintage Buick motorcar which forms part of his bankrupt estate.

"This vehicle has not been delivered to the Official Assignee despite a court order," the judges said.

They said Heenan claimed that the 1939 Buick was owned by a family trust and had admitted hiding it so that the Official Assignee could not seize it.

In 2003 Heenan served a short prison sentence for failing to hand over the vehicle.

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- NZPA

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