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Value for money in caught$

Filed under: Law & Courts — MurrayBacon @ 11:48 am Sun 1st July 2012

It is not just the familycaught$ that has serious value for money problems.

As the familycaught$ is now charging daily court costs, users need to be much more careful about what they are taking on, when the initiate or defend any action in familycaught$.

51 plumbing jolts leave couple battling for compo

A Bay of Plenty couple have lost their home and are out of pocket by more than $1 million after a company owned by a wealthy hotel-owning family failed to compensate them for damage to a motel they operated.

Brigit and Brian Lawrence are owed $1m plus interest by a company owned by the Pandey family, proprietors of a string of hotels, motels and other properties across the country including Auckland’s Pullman, the Mercure on Customs St, and a chunk of the former Westin hotel in the city’s Viaduct Harbour.

Another company that owned the motel owes them $800,000 plus interest.

The Lawrences left the Lakewood Rotorua motel after enduring five years of burst water pipes and other plumbing problems due to the property’s substandard piping.

Following a legal battle which began almost as soon as the Lawrences took over the operation of Lakewood in 2003, the couple have now had the two companies at the centre of the dispute liquidated.
The Lawrences worked hard to keep the business going, but in the meantime the landlords put the rent up 43 per cent. Eventually the financial situation became untenable and their financier called the receivers into their company, Lawrence Riverside Limited, in December 2007. They finally ceased trading in March 2008.

Capital Hospitality and NZ Properties admitted breaching their lessor’s covenants, but denied liability for the extent of the damages the Lawrences claimed.

Just days before a High Court hearing last November, the two companies said they would not defend the claim, and on December 15 Justice Peter Woodhouse ordered them to pay the Lawrences an aggregate sum of $1.8m for loss of income, loss of capital, legal fees, penalty interest, receivership and court costs, all plus interest.

“We haven’t seen a penny,” Brigit Lawrence said this week.

“We lost our house… we lost our car, we lost our business, we lost our credibility. We are totally hamstrung by all this until it’s cleared up.”

Brent Norling of Waterstone Insolvency said while the liquidators could not undo the property transactions, they could seek the difference if it were proved the properties had not been sold for proper value.

The directors of the companies had so far refused to co-operate, he said.

“What we need is to look at some valuations, we need to look at the sale and purchase agreements. We’ve made requests, all of which haven’t been complied with.

“We will begin proceedings to force their hand to provide us the information we need to conduct our investigations.”

Grahame Fong, a lawyer for Charles and Prakash Pandey’s company CP Group, emailed in response to the Sunday Star-Times’ calls to the pair.

Capital Hospitality “is not an entity we own, nor has it ever been”, Fong said. The registered address of Capital Hospitality’s ultimate owner is the Pandeys’ Queen St offices, and Prakash Pandey filed the company’s annual return in March.

NZ Properties had no assets and had ceased trading, Fong said. Despite the Woodhouse judgment, he claimed it had “no outstanding obligations to any external parties”.

Both companies had elected not to continue defending their positions, on the grounds of cost.

The Lawrences were in breach of their lease and owed a significant amount of rent, he said.

The couple were “fully legally aided” and therefore “financially bullet proof”.

“This is reflected in the fact that the case dragged on for many years during which NZ Properties and Capital Holdings made very reasonable offers of settlement, which were rebuffed.”

– © Fairfax NZ News
Although the Lawrences employed legal-workers that were “competent”, they were not real world wise.
They won the case, but lost the war, due to not being competent enough in their legal strategy.

Stories like this abound in familycaught$ too. “Competent” legal work, but failure to apply a real world strategy that could work. In the end, this incompetent practice fails to deliver any value to the customers. It just destroys value and relationships.

Customers must successfully manage their legal-worker.
Pay legal charges, by each small task and consider whether the charge is reasonable for the advice and work done.
Even more important, is your overall real world strategy workable?
This takes excellent knowledge, you may need help from people that you trust, rather than legal-workers!

“This is reflected in the fact that the case dragged on for many years during which NZ Properties and Capital Holdings made very reasonable offers of settlement, which were rebuffed.”

With hindsight, maybe the Lawrences should have settled earlier and taken a less generous payout?
The Lawrence’s decision to continue to fight in caught might have been reasonable, if they had secured the assets in the companies that they were suing. To give these companies time to hollow themselves out, was destroying their opportunity to ever get any redress.
By demanding more, without being real-world wise, they ended up with less than nothing.
By taking legal-worker’s-aid, the Lawrences used inexperienced legal workers. They cheated themselves badly.

Another example of failure to have a long term real world strategy:
Maori trust hit by massive costs bill
A Maori trust deep in negotiations with the Crown to settle Treaty of Waitangi claims has been hit by a court order for costs of more than half a million dollars.

The Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki tribal trust has been engaged in litigation the past eight years after squabbling led to the High Court appointing an administrator and later the trust ousting the administrator and contesting expenses he claimed.

On June 21 the Court of Appeal struck out a challenge to an order Mark Stevens, the appointed administrator of the trust between 2004 and 2009, should be paid $240,632. The Court of Appeal ruling also upheld a determination $374,615 in professional expenses incurred by Stevens while running the trust should also be paid.

The ruling catalogues a “state of disharmony” within the trust dating back to 1994 whereby two factions duelled for control. This state of affairs culminated in a 2004 decision by the High Court to appoint Stevens, not a trust member, as sole interim trustee.

Stevens still faced challenges, however, and an early High Court ruling on the case notes: “On occasions Mr Stevens has had to endure communications from those who opposed his stewardship that were both obscene and insulting.” The judges dismissed claims from the trust that Stevens had overcharged, kept inadequate accounts and been dishonest in his administration.


For the year covered by the accounts the trust ran a $55,015 deficit and liabilities exceeded assets by $283,554. Overdue taxes and penalties, totalling $162,536, owing to the Inland Revenue Department were settled with a $25,000 payment and the remainder being written off.

The trust signed an agreement to settle Treaty claims with the Crown in November, indicating the Government would pay $11.5 million. It is understood final negotiations are ongoing.

– © Fairfax NZ News
In dealing with caught$, you need to be confident that the issues are straightforward and well documented. Otherwise, it all degenerates into lazy guessing, which is a polite (self deluding) name for gambling.

Don’t gamble with your children’s upbringing!


  1. so whats that got to do with family courts,fathers and children?

    Comment by Ford — Sun 1st July 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  2. Any person contemplating court action, needs to put in the effort to manage their legal-worker, or they may be saddled with large bills, possibly for nothing of any value anyway.

    It seems hard to imagine that Wellington City Council needed to spend $350,000 to defend itself against actions by The Right Honourable Benjamin Easton.

    There are procedures for discovery and clarification of both evidence and legal issues, before going into court. If there is no case to answer, it is easy to obtain a strikeout of the action. Using these procedures, which are well laid out in District Court Rules, it is easy to strikeout hopeless cases cheaply.

    So how is it that Wellington City Council has spent so much on its legal-workers?

    It sounds like either incompetence or possibly the staff responsible for managing these legal-workers might have been taking kick-backs from the legal-workers?

    This is a warning that it is essential to carefully manage your legal-worker, or risk being seriously ripped off.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sun 1st July 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  3. Wellington got caught in a double whammy. Itwas taken to court on numerous occasions by a vexatious and litigupos litigatant. (Ben Easton) Among other groups Ben attempted to represent was “Save Manners Street”, Occupy Wellington, and most recently he squatted in a block of flats considered a hazzard! Unfortunately he also associated himself with the “Mens rights Movement” Ben single handedly cost Wellington City Council, most of the $500,000 legal fees it has had to pay. SO FAR!

    Comment by Gwaihir — Wed 11th July 2012 @ 11:52 am

  4. they should just give him 250k and call it

    Comment by Ford — Wed 11th July 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  5. What a load of rubbish

    This case is STILL active in the High Court


    Comment by Brian — Sat 21st March 2015 @ 7:30 pm

  6. Today in the news

    The group is owned by Charles Pandey and his sons, Prakesh and Rakesh.

    The family, through various companies, owned the 38-room Lakewood Motel in Rotorua and became embroiled in a dispute with the tenants Bridget and Brian Lawrence, who were running the motel.

    The motel went into receivership in 2008 after it was continually flooded due to defective plumbing. After the Lawrences walked out, the building became a haunt for squatters and attracted vandals.

    A fire destroyed one of the units in 2009 and police were often called to the site.

    The Pandey group has since been embroiled in litigation over the motel.

    The Lawrences sued and won a court award of $1 million plus interest, successfully claiming the failure of their business was due to the defective plumbing.

    They tried to enforce the award by liquidating two Pandey companies.

    Liquidator Damien Grant, of Waterstone Insolvency in Auckland, said the matter had not been resolved and he was now suing a raft of Pandey companies and members of the family personally for many millions of dollars.

    Comment by Brian — Sat 21st March 2015 @ 7:33 pm

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