Court of Appeal quashes $1.1m defamation case

DEBBIE JAMIESON
Last updated 05:00 15/08/2013
Barry Small
Barry Small

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The Court of Appeal has thrown out home-building franchise Lockwood Homes' claims against Te Anau man Barry Small in a $1.1 million defamation case.

The case was originally heard in the commercial list of the High Court in Auckland but in a judgment in November 2011 parts of Lockwood Homes' claim were struck out and the company was ordered to provide more particulars of the alleged defamation.

Lockwood Homes appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal but did not seek the leave of the High Court.

In July the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on the basis that Lockwood Homes had not obtained leave and ordered Lockwood Homes to pay costs to Mr Small.

Mr Small's lawyer, Colin Withnall, QC, said that the costs awarded covered some of the costs but not all.

The case was not yet over, with orders outstanding for Lockwood to provide particulars of the defamation claim to the High Court in Invercargill.

The defamation claim arose after Mr Small signed up for a Lockwood home in 2007 with franchise holder Odin Construction.

A Southland District Council building inspector found the house breached the Building Code on 48 points and Mr Small entered arbitration with Odin director Ken Andreassen and Lockwood Homes. Odin was told to pay him $70,000 and finish the home but shortly after went into liquidation and Mr Andreassen declared bankruptcy. The national franchise holders Lockwood Homes then told him the organisation did not guarantee the work of its franchisees and the problems were nothing to do with them.

Mr Small was about $200,000 out of pocket and, in frustration, threatened to go public with his concerns about Lockwood Homes, who then brought the $1.1m defamation suit against him.

Mr Withnall said he was now investigating other options relating to the issues over Mr Small's home. Yesterday Mr Small said the case had dragged.

However, the defamation case is still before the courts, including an injunction which prevents Mr Small commenting about some issues.

Lockwood Homes national sales manager Roger Allsopp did not return calls yesterday.

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- The Southland Times

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