Northland contractor Jimmy Daisley has been allowed to apply to get Whangārei District Council’s Forum North HQ sold to recover a $6.1 million court-ordered debt to him. Photo / Michael Cunningham
A Northland contractor has been given permission to ask the High Court to order the sale of Whangārei District Council’s Forum North headquarters after “17 years of hell” that saw him awarded $6.1 million from
Jimmy Daisley has won two High Court judgements against the district council over a wrongly filed resource consent that the council used to pursue him over his quarry and led to his 17-year-battle for justice.
He was back before the court this week, which granted his request for a sale order on the 2.387 hectares of land that Forum North sits on in Rust Ave to pay the multi-million debt the council owes him.
The council has appealed the earlier judgement, but Daisley says his life has been hell for the 17 years he has been battling the council and it was now time for the local body to pay up, as the court has ordered it to do.
‘’I’ve now got to wait for the court to decide if they will sell it to pay me the money they owe me. It’s been 17 years of hell from the council chasing me for not having a consent when they had that consent on their files all along,’’ Daisley said.
‘’At once stage they tried to bankrupt me over a $16,000 debt I owed them. Well now it’s my turn to have a go at them for the money they owe me. I’m sure if I owed the council $6 million they’d do all they could to get it off me.
‘’I didn’t want it to get to this stage, but what else could I do? The High Court will now decide if it will sell it to recover my money. That could take several months, but that’s exactly what I will do if they haven’t paid up by then. It’s gone on long enough and already caused so much trauma for me and my family.’’
He said the lengthy legal battle almost broke him physically and financially and two High Court judges had ruled the council was wrong, and it was only fair that the council now paid him.
This week’s judgement grants a sale order, saying to the Sheriff at Whangārei: ‘’This Court authorises and requires you or your authorised agent to sell the Whangārei District Council’s right, title or interest in the property at 7 Rust Ave, Whangārei…’’
In his submission to the hearing, Daisley’s lawyer submitted that Daisley is beneficially entitled to the property after the earlier judgement allowing him to apply for the sale.
Daisley said it would be up to the court to get a real estate agent to sell the property, and given its site and zoning, he felt it would attract a lot of interest on the open market.
The property, that also includes Whangārei Library and a surrounding car park, has a valuation of $40,850,000.
A council spokesperson said the parties have reached an agreed position on the status of the damages award pending the outcome of the appeal and council expects that proceedings to require the sale of Forum North will not be required.
But Daisley told the Advocate he is pushing ahead with forcing the sale in case those negotiations don’t come up with a solution to his satisfaction.
Daisley operated a quarry on a property in Knight Rd, Ruatangata, after buying it from the previous owner in December 2004.
The property had been used for quarrying for several decades, and the quarry operations had not been challenged, disputed or prohibited at any time. Daisley had big plans, intending to not only extract metal for use in his contracting business, Daisley Contracting, but also to sell quarried minerals to local farmers and other contractors.
However, WDC issued an abatement notice, directing the quarrying operation to cease in February 2005, only seven weeks after he bought the property. The notice said he needed to get a resource consent issued to carry out quarrying at the property. The council threatened enforcement action if he did not.
The council said the reasons for the abatement notice included the assertion that the removal of material at the property was neither expressly allowed by a resource consent or an existing use right.
Daisley has been fighting to challenge the decision and get the council to admit it was wrong to close him down.
His fight – which he admits nearly broke him and caused major financial and other problems – saw a High Court judge in June award him $4,279,622, plus interest and costs, after the court found the council liable in negligence over not being able to find the consent, despite it being on council records.
Then in July, in scathing comments from the High Court, Justice Kit Toogood described a separate peg of the council’s defence in the case as the result of a “deeply flawed analysis”.
He then ordered the council to pay Daisley increased legal costs of $510,000 because of its flawed defence in the case.
Also in July, the council filed an appeal over the judgment which ordered it pay Daisley $5.7m. A date for that appeal has yet to be set.