Ex resident will be arrested on return
A former Wanaka woman – who works as a geisha in Japan – has cost the council almost $800,000 in legal fees over the years since a dispute about sub-standard accommodation.
Earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice William Young heard an application by Fiona Caroline Graham, who ran the Wanaka Gym, in relation to a $24,000 fine imposed on her in the district court.
He refused to stay proceedings related to applications for leave to appeal previous court judgements and fines.
‘‘Dr Graham seeks what is in effect a stay in relation to the payment of fines. Dr Graham . . . will be arrested if she returns to New Zealand, as she wishes to do for the purpose of preparing submissions.’’
A Queenstown Lakes District Council spokeswoman said the cost incurred during court proceedings between 2008 and this year were estimated at $787,285. The figure included some earlier costs.
‘‘We understand she is trying to negotiate a part payment of the fines in exchange for having the arrest warrant lifted. Any decision [or] payment arrangements are to be made by the Ministry of Justice.’’
Collection of the $64,000 in fines imposed on Graham and her company is administered by the ministry, who then pay the council. Costs of $9000 incurred by the council are also being administered by the ministry.
In 2010, Graham and her company were fined $64,000 for allowing a building in Tenby St to be used for visitor accommodation when known fire dangers existed. The building was still used after a dangerous building notice was issued.
She was fined $24,000 and the company, Wanaka Gym, was fined $40,000. Judge David Holderness found Graham and the company guilty of a total of 14 charges laid under the Building Act.
Graham’s appeals against the district court judgement were dismissed in the High Court and later appeals seaking leave to apply to the Court of Appeal were also dismissed.
Justice Young said she sought Supreme Court leave because there was no right of appeal for leave decisions. Leave to appeal against a High Court decision would be granted in exceptional circumstances, he said.
He extended the time allowed to file submissions seeking legal aid until November 28 but was not prepared to issue a stay in relation to fines.
Proceedings were first started by the council 10 years ago.