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Judgment: Hagaman v Little

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF NEW ZEALAND
CA206/2017
[2017] NZCA 447

BETWEEN
EARL RAYMOND HAGAMAN
Appellant
AND
ANDREW JAMES LITTLE
Respondent

[…]

Judgment:
2 November 2017 at 10.00 am

JUDGMENT OF THE COURT

A The appeal is dismissed.

B The appellant’s estate must pay the respondent costs for a standard appeal on a band A basis and usual disbursements.


REASONS OF THE COURT

(Given by Kós P)

[1] Does the late Mr Hagaman’s appeal against a High Court Judge’s ruling in a defamation trial survive his death? That is the question this judgment is concerned with.

Background

[2] Mr and Mrs Hagaman owned a large New Zealand hotel chain. In 2014 Mr Hagaman made a substantial donation to the governing National Party of NewZealand. The Hagamans’ hotel chain later received Niue Government funding to upgrade a hotel in that country. The ultimate source of that funding was New Zealand Government aid assistance. The Leader of the Opposition Labour Party of New Zealand, Mr Little, drew a connection between these events in a series of six public statements.

[3] The Hagamans issued proceedings in defamation against Mr Little in June 2016. Trial commenced in April 2017. During the trial Clark J ruled that the six statements were protected by qualified privilege.1 The jury were agreed that Mrs Hagaman’s claims failed. They also agreed that two of Mr Hagaman’s six claims failed. But they could not agree on the other four. Judgment was entered in the High Court for Mr Little against Mrs Hagaman. No judgment was entered in relation to Mr Hagaman’s claim.

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[4] The present appeal against the Judge’s ruling concerns one only of those four disagreed claims — the second cause of action. The appeal was filed in April 2017. Mr Hagaman died in May 2017. Although his personal representatives have not yet been substituted as appellants, they are responsible for the present conduct of the appeal and accept responsibility for any costs ordered on it.

[…]

Full judgment: CAHagamanvLittle.pdf

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