School wins court costs fight

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 13:23 12/12/2013
Tony Simpson
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

FIRST WIN: Phillipstown School principal Tony Simpson hugs a parent after news of a High Court ruling that Education Minister Hekia Parata's decision to merge it with Woolston School was unlawful.

Hekia Parata
CARYS MONTEATH/The Press
IMPORTANT LESSON: Hekia Parata visits Phillipstown School during the consultation process last year.

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Phillipstown School in Christchurch has won nearly $100,000 in court costs for its battle with Education Minister Hekia Parata over its proposed closure.

The minister was ordered to pay the school's court costs when Justice John Fogarty declared in November that her consultation process over its merger with Woolston failed to meet the requirements of the Education Act.

A further judgment released today ordered Parata to pay the school's $99,315.25 costs, after the two were unable to reach an agreement over the figure.

The school hired renowned lawyer Mai Chen to represent it through the judicial review.

Justice John Fogarty said it was his view ''that when any private citizen or organisation is asking the High Court to overturn a Minister's decision, the prudent course for such an applicant is to engage counsel who have special skill, experience and standing before the High Court''.

Fairfax revealed last month that almost $100,000 of taxpayers' money had so far been spent on Parata's unsuccessful defence in court.

Information received through the Official Information Act showed $96,729.68 had so far been spent on Crown Law fees and other court costs.

The figure was likely to rise further, since the final costs would not be known "for some time", the Ministry of Education said.

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