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Golf club loses rulebook technicality

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/06/2017

An Auckland businessman will not have to pay back-dated membership fees to a Coromandel golf club because his property is on the club's land and won $25,000 in costs after he argued a rule book technicality all the way to the Supreme Court.

Hartley Vincent, co-owner of Harpers Fashions, which has more than 20 women's clothes shops around the country, bought one of 150 properties around Pauanui's Lakes Resort in 2002.

A covenant registered against the property says the land owner has to join the golf club, remain a member and meet all club levies and charges.

The golf club, according to the covenant, would be set up as an incorporated society, but the entity that bought the club in 2009, Lakes International Golf Management, is a company.

Mr Vincent argued that the covenant was enforceable by an incorporated society, not a company.

In 2015, a High Court ruled Mr Vincent owed Lakes International $5070 for membership fees for 2011, 2012 and 2012, along with $602 in interest.

Mr Vincent took the matter to the Court of Appeal last year and won, the judges at the time saying Lakes International had departed from the "clear words of the covenant" - that is, the golf club would be run by a company, to earn a profit.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling agreeing.

The judges ruled that although Lakes International submitted that the running of the golf course by an incorporated society was a mistake, it is nevertheless not what Mr Vincent signed on for.

"That it might have been no less onerous for Mr Vincent to join a golf club which was an incorporated society is of no moment, as he cannot be compelled to do something which is different from what he agreed."

Mr Vincent was also awarded $25,000 costs.

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