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Briefcase Blog - Judicial Retirements & Ed's Plate

The Briefcase Blog – Judicial Retirements to Ed Hillary’s Plate, Plus Hanover Deal and Diligent Class Actions

By John Bowie

The Retirement of Judge Clapham

Judge Clapham’s retirement following 18 years at the Manukau District Court, mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, brought forth an observant and entertaining series of observations from the Judge concerning the state of the law and his own career. Notable was the increase in business, a near 50% increase in the three years since he’s been there but “judges need to refuse to be over burdened,” he said. He recalled his association with such courtroom greats as Sir Robin Cooke, Mike Bungay, Bill Gazley , Roy Stacey and Sir John Jeffries among others He also self deprecatingly recalled the “bollocking” from Chief Justice Sir Richard Wild for having the temerity to request an adjournment following his a broken nose and ripped ear from a rugby mishap.

The Wild Plate

And talking of Wild judges, I happened upon an image of the new “Sir Edmund Hillary Shield”, the NZ-England rugby shield presented by Lady Hillary and which drew the observation from cartoonist and writer Tom Scott, a close friend of Sir Ed’s, as to who the hell had drawn Hillary’s beaming image. "It's like a very bad drawing of Daniel Boon,” Scott said. In fact, I believe through some bizarre gaffe, the artist has drawn the image of highly accomplished judicial mountaineer Justice John Wild. It’s definitely him. This is in fact The Wild Plate, which is a much more imaginative and appropriate name in any event. Further, Justice Wild worked in London for some years and has close British connections. This year I finally intend to tackle the mighty Takaka Hill by bike with His Honour and will make appropriate enquiries and report back.

The Hanover Handover

What a crock this Hanover deal appears to be. Just why the same people who ran the show and took a king’s ransom from it on the way through while the assets reduced about as fast as the Lombard loan book, should now receive creditor approval to continue holding the reins is beyond me. Surely they’d be better partying back in Fiji? Where is the Securities Commission in all of this? In terms of finance company losses generally, I’ve cast my eye over the legislation, particularly section 37A of the Securities Act, which relates to voidable or irregular allotments. The section and gives subscribers the ability to call for their money back where there has been a failure to refer to adverse circumstances since their investment effectively making them preferential creditors, which would appear to provide a cause for action in some of these cases.

Meanwhile, over at the Digilent Class Action

Christchurch solicitors Wakefield Associates, undoubtedly encouraged by Justice French’s recent favourable ruling on litigation funding in relation to their Feltex class action, this week sent out nearly 700 letters to Diligent Board Member Services shareholders regarding impending court action over the failure to disclose director Brian Henry’s involvement with the 1980s company flop, Energycorp. Now the law firm is looking at adding the tort of deceipt to its claim, related to the evident personal relationship between Brian’s brother Gerald and Diligent board member Sharon Daniels. It should have been disclosed also, says Garry Wakefield and Chris McVeigh QC.

Lear Jets Over Featherston

Talking of Gerald Henry, his involvement in Energycorp and Epicorp, which was some dumb derivative of the former, is memorable for me. I was peripherally involved in a meeting in the late 1980s with the Henry boys and Stephen Trott, former adviser to John Spencer’s interests, who had left the offices for the airport. As I trudged my weary way home along Featherston Street a glint in the crystalline Wellington sky caught my eye. It was the Energycorp Lear Jet, ferrying the Henry-Trott contingent back to barracks in Auckland. Surreal, really.

Bain Again

Stand by for the forthcoming David Bain hearing before the Judicial Committee on December 8. Michael Reed QC has left the country to fight the good fight. We’ll await the outcome with interest.


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