The Waimate District Council took the requirements for "urgent" building work into account before deciding to prosecute a building owner for work done without consent, the council said at a costs hearing in the Christchurch High Court yesterday.
It was the second day of the hearing at which building owner Keith Williams was seeking further costs over the failed prosecution.
District Court Judge Joanna Maze has made an order for the council to pay $80,000, but a lawyer for Mr Williams, Rick Farr, is arguing that the company, Glenkeith Industries, should be paid a further $120,000 in costs.
In making the order, Judge Maze found that the council acted with "a high degree of negligence".
Lawyer for the council, Stephen Quinn, told Justice Robert Dobson yesterday that the council was "strongly opposed to any increase in the award of costs".
He said no new grounds had been put forward that had not been before Judge Maze at the District Court hearing.
The High Court could not be justified in concluding that there should be any increase in the sum awarded.
He said $60,000 represented 1 per cent of the district's rates.
This had been the only prosecution initiated by the council in the last 10 years, he said.
Justice Dobson replied: "Oh dear.
"They will be very gun-shy of doing another one."
"This experience has had an impact," said Mr Quinn.
In his submissions, which continued all morning and into the afternoon, he pointed to a series of records and documents indicating that the council had considered whether the repairs made to the Innes St building had been done as urgent work.
The repairs were done after a wall of the building began flexing in the wind in December 2010.
The council does not accept that the repair work arose from an "exceptional event".
The Building Act allows urgent work to be done for safety reasons.
Mr Quinn said the council had replied to a letter from the company.
It had "noted the contents" which included a reference to the building work being done under urgency.
He also referred to notes from a meeting of council staff in February 2011. Mr Williams had elected not to attend this meeting.
The notes included a reference to the council staff wanting Mr Williams "to proceed with the work in a legal manner" and saying that the work did not meet the "urgency" requirements.
The amount of work could not come under that section of the act.
This related to making a building safe in an emergency, Mr Quinn said.
Justice Dobson is expected to reserve his decision.
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