Rainey Law wins in the Supreme Court
Rainey Law has won an important decision on behalf of leaky building owners in the Supreme Court. In John Anthony Osborne and Helen Osborne v Auckland Council  NZSC 47 the Supreme Court held that Section 14(a) of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006, when construed in context and with regard to its purpose, should be interpreted as a paraphrase of s 393 of the Building Act. The word “built” in s 14(a) was intended to be construed by reference to the expression “building work” in s 393, which encompasses certifications. Section 14(a) therefore operates to exclude claims where all building work, including certifications where relevant, occurred more than ten years before an assessor’s report is requested.
The effect of this decision is to remove a barrier to the owners of leaky homes from brining claims under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006 provided they do so within 10 years of the date that the code complaince certificate was issued for their homes. A copy of the decision can be found at http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/from/decisions/judgments-supreme/judgments-supreme-2014
Rainey Law presents argument in Osbone v Auckland Council to the Supreme Court
On 5 November 2013 Rainey Law argued the case for the appellants before the New Zealand Supreme Court in John Anthony Osborne and Helen Osborne v The Auckland Council and another (SC 9/13). The issue in the appeal is when a house is "built" for purposes of the 10 year limit on claims under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006. If sucessful, the Osborne appeal will open the door for many leaky home owners to bring claims that have been held to be ineligible for assistance under the Weathertight Homes legislation. The Supreme Court has reserved its decision in the case. A trancript of the hearing before the Court can be viewed at http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/from/transcripts/from/transcripts/supreme-court-transcripts-2013
The Hanover Investors Group
We are pleased to advise that the response to our letter of 6 October 2010 has been overwhelming and there is strong support for further investigation into the loss of your investment and for legal action against those responsible.
We are not at this stage able to quantify the extent of that support as we are currently processing the information that we have received. This will take some weeks. We have received between 2500 and 3000 completed forms and hundreds of emails, letters and telephone calls. All of this information needs to be processed so we have a working database of investors in the Group who will potentially participate in any future action.
The Group is not a closed shop. It will remain open to all former investors in Hanover and United who wish to participate in our proposed action. There may come a time when this will change, but for now any former Hanover or United investor wanting to join may do so by completing the form and returning it to us.
The membership form may be downloaded here.
The Allied Farmers AGM
We attended the Allied Farmers AGM which was held in Hawera on 30 November 2011. We understand that the minutes of the meeting will be distributed to all shareholders and that the presentation of Rob Alloway, the CEO, will apparently be available on the New Zealand Stock Exchange website.
One of the main developments affecting the previous Hanover/United investors is the nomination of Geoff Keenan to the board of Allied Farmers, as a director. We understand that Mr Keenan is a previous Hanover/United investor himself and, if appointed, will no doubt lend some independence to the board and be an independent voice for the interests of the Hanover/United investors.
The main thrust of the presentation was to advise shareholders that despite a difficult couple of years culminating in the receivership of Allied Nationwide Finance, the board does have a plan for Allied Farmers going forward and is confident that the company will be able to trade out of its difficulties. Rob Alloway gave some indication of the efforts made to ensure the company's survival. Some of the main issues touched upon were the reduction of total Group debt from $79 million to $45 million and, in particular, the repayment of the Westpac term debt. This has been achieved by the sale of former Hanover/United assets. Rob Alloway also indicated that the company would refocus on its core livestock business going forward.
As far as the Hanover/United assets are concerned, Rob Alloway advised the meeting that Allied Farmers had uncovered a number unusual transactions in the Hanover/United files and had reported the findings to the Serious Fraud Office. He was not able to comment further on details of the findings or the investigations being conducted. You may however have seen the recent media reports indicating that approximately 30 people associated with Hanover Finance have been summoned by the Serious Fraud Office to submit to interviews and hand over documents. The investigations it seems may lead to fraud charges being laid against certain parties in due course. It is unlikely that these investigations will lead to any financial recovery for the investors. Civil proceedings will still need to be instituted by the investors.
Whilst the focus has to date been on Allied Farmers and its management of the United and Hanover assets there is clearly support for the investigation to extend to the entire series of events that have resulted in the loss of your investment and for legal action against a potentially broader group.
The nature of the claims and the potential parties involved will ultimately depend on the outcome of the investigations. However we can already say that there appears to be fertile ground for civil action to recover some of the monies lost by investors from various parties involved in the loss of your investment.
Given that this is a publically accessible website, it is inappropriate for us to detail those parties here. What we can say is that before legal action is commence on behalf of the Hanover Investors Group we will seek investors informed authority to commence that litigation and outline our views on the prospects of success as well and the risks and costs going forward.
It is vitally important that the any legal action taken on behalf of investors is adequately resourced. There is no doubt that any claim will be vigorously defended by the parties pursued. If we are to overcome that opposition, we must have the necessary resources to properly pursue the claims.
From our inquiries to date, it seems unlikely that the investors will be able to adequately fund the litigation from their own resources. It also seems to us quite unfair to ask them to do so.
But there are alternatives for funding any litigation which we are currently exploring. We expect to be in a position to update investors on the prospects of that legal action early in the New Year.
Thank you all for your continued support.