Stonewood: Crux court victory but Boult appeals again

by Peter Newport - Nov 28, 2022

Editorial/Analysis

There's been another court victory for Crux today in our battle to get access to court documents connected with the $26 million collapse of Stonewood Homes, only to be faced with yet another appeal from former mayor Jim Boult.

Mr Boult is fighting on multiple fronts to prevent access to two key sets of Stonewood documents.

The first, court documents that set out the claims made by the liquidators of Stonewood Homes against Mr Boult and fellow director Brent Mettrick; the second, the document they filed in defence of those claims. The proceedings were settled in November last year with a payment of $3.5 million.

Crux has now received two favourable High Court judgements in our attempt to access these court documents. Associate Judge Paulsen ruled in our favour on February 23 this year. Due to a jurisdictional issue his decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal and sent back to the High Court, but today Justice Rachel Dunningham in the Christchurch High Court ruled:

High Court Justice Rachel Dunningham - ruled today (November 28) Crux should have access to the Stonewood court papers.

“I grant access to and copies of any statement of claim, statement of defence, or statement in reply filed by any party. This is subject to the condition that in any report of a new allegation made in the plaintiffs’ statement of claim dated 4 June 2021, Crux is to make it clear the defendants did not have the opportunity to respond to the allegations before settlement was reached.”

Within just a few hours Mr Boult’s Christchurch legal team had filed another appeal against Justice Dunningham’s decision.

In the meantime, the liquidator of Stonewood Homes has filed its latest report in which it details its own legal battle to give a group of Stonewood creditors (grouped as a liquidation committee) access to its files – in spite of an application by Mr Boult and Mr Mettrick opposing the move.

“After a hearing, the Court dismissed the application, stating in the judgment inter alia 'The liquidator was correct that the liquidation committee is entitled to inspect the Court documents subject only to the liquidator believing, on reasonable grounds, that inspection of some documents would be prejudicial to the liquidation.

“The liquidator has found that inspection would not be prejudicial to the liquidation, with limited exceptions. The directors have failed to satisfy me that his decision was either wrong or unreasonable. Whether the matter is considered in terms of s 284(1) or the Court’s inherent jurisdiction, there is no basis to interfere with the liquidator’s decision'. This judgment has since been appealed by Mr Boult and Mr Mettrick and is now awaiting a hearing date at the Court of Appeal."

Associate Judge Owen Paulsen - also ruled in favour of Crux earlier this year.

Source: November 21, 2022 Stonewood Liquidators Report on the Companies Office website.

These creditors, especially if armed with the liquidator’s file, may be able to mount a single or series of civil actions against Mr Boult and Mr Mettrick to recover their money.


 

The liquidators’ legal action against Mr Boult and Mr Mettrick was settled by a payment of $3.5 million from the two men, but most of that money went to property developer Chris Meehan, who had funded the liquidators' court costs. The balance went to the liquidators themselves, leaving nothing for the creditors.

Crux asked Mr Boult and his lawyers this afternoon (Monday, November 28) why they were going to such lengths in an attempt to deny access to these documents, but no reply was received.

Why Mr Boult is going to such lengths to prevent the disclosure of documents judicial officers have ruled can be disclosed remains a mystery.    

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