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Judgment: Hagaman application for appeal dismissed

SC 121/2017
[2018] NZSC 13




13 February 2018


A The application for leave to appeal is dismissed.
B The personal representatives of Mr Hagaman must pay costs of $2,500 to the respondent.


[1] The late Earl Hagaman and his wife, Lianna-Merie, sued the respondent, the Hon Andrew Little MP, for defamation in relation to statements made by Mr Little when he was Leader of the Opposition. The matter went to trial before Clark J and a jury in April 2017. Clark J ruled that the statements that were alleged to have defamed Mr and Mrs Hagaman were protected by qualified privilege. The jury agreed that all of Mrs Hagaman’s claims failed and that two of the six claims made by Mr Hagaman failed. They could not agree on the other four of Mr Hagaman’s claims.

[2] No judgment was entered in the High Court in relation to Mr Hagaman’s claims. Mr Hagaman appealed to the Court of Appeal against the qualified privilege ruling made by Clark J. The appeal related only to one of the four undecided causes of action, namely the second cause of action. The appeal was filed in April 2017, but Mr Hagaman died in May 2017. Although formal steps were not taken to substitute Mr Hagaman’s personal representatives as appellants, they were responsible for the conduct of his appeal in the Court of Appeal and the same applies in relation to the present application.

[3] The parties agreed that the Court of Appeal would deal with the preliminary issue of whether the appeal survived Mr Hagaman’s death. The Court of Appeal found it did not. Mr Hagaman’s personal representatives (the applicants) seek leave to appeal against that decision.


[Full judgment: SCHagamanvLittle.pdf]

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