A rare letter from the Chief District Court Judge

June 13th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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Hat Tip: Whale Oil

It is rare for the Chief Judge to write a letter to the editor. She is obviously concerned that ’s policy paints a false picture of the situation in ,

The key aspects if her letter are:

  • A specialist list has been in place since February 2012
  • Earthquake cases get priority over other civil cases
  • Court cases get before a judge within 55 working days
  • Of 76 cases filed, 43 have been disposed of of which only 1 went to a full hearing
  • Of the remaining 33, 17 are on track for a negotiated settlement
  • 10 further cases may be negotiated also

So basically there are possibly only six cases that may go to a full trial at the District Court.

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42 Responses to “A rare letter from the Chief District Court Judge”

  1. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    Labour’s “crisis” magic has worked again. Now, if only they would declare a lotto winner crisis.

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  2. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    “I have no comment to make about the announcements of Mr Cunliffe and the policies of his party.”

    Haha! The remainder of the letter is just a slightly more polite way of saying the new policy proposal is a complete waste of time and money, designed as a vote grabber and ignores the real situation on the ground. More succinctly- “Cunliffe get f*$ked.”

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  3. dishy (248 comments) says:

    One feels that if the learned judge were hearing a Fair Trading Act claim, she would find against Mr Cunliffe and award costs against him.

    It’s odd, isn’t it, that if I were selling ironing boards I would get punished much more harshly for my misleading claims than would a politician seeking to mislead voters into forming a dangerous government.

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  4. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Bye bye Cunliffe …. enjoy doing up that little doer-upper you have.

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  5. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    dishy

    Pretty much anything we do “wrong” gets punished by the laws the politicians pass but never seem accountable under. Winston still owes $158,000 from 2005. Calculate the penalties and interest using the IRD formula on that and see how much you or I would owe if we had that debt….. but Winston just mocks us and carries on.

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  6. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    If Chief District Court Judge Doogue posted that at The Standard, she’d probably be banned by Lynn Prentice!

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  7. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    queenstfarmer

    lprent would call her an idiot and and give her a lecture on the law, he did a few first and second year papers you know !

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  8. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Who’s brave enough to paraphrase what this letter says in such a way that lprent will go off his rocker and spit bile about needing to do some coding and how good he is as a sysop ?

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  9. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    There is a vast difference between cases remaining ‘unsettled’ and cases before the Court.

    Whilst the letter rightly indicated the number that have got so far as to require legal action, one would be extremely foolhardy to presume that they are the only ‘unsettled’ cases, and/or that there may be some that due to the process and expense of taking legal action, have failed to get that far, due to the stress etc involved.

    Whilst I’m sure Cunliffe has managed to fudge his figures, or been given bad advice over his policy, I also think its a tad stupid to presume the quoted letter is the entire picture.

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  10. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Judith

    Yes, lets argue with the Chief District Court Judge over judicial process and what’s going on in the court…..

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  11. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    To paraphrase:

    “I have no comment to make on the announcements of Mr Cunliffe and the policies of his party.

    However, their comments on the Chch courts are completely wrong and their ideas to “fix” things are shit.”

    :-) BOOM

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  12. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    @ RRM – dead right. This letter from the Chief District Court Judge has considerable significance. Members of the Judiciary are not exactly renowned for getting involved with the media, unless they hail from Canada.

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  13. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    Hmmm, who to believe: “Judith”, or the Chief District Court Judge? Tough question.

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  14. Matthew Hooton (131 comments) says:

    I love the charming judicial passive aggression in the second paragraph

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  15. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    The Labour Party made a thinly veiled attack on the processes of the District Court and undermined public confidence in that Court. The Chief Judge was quite correct in setting the record straight so far as the facts are concerned.

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  16. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ burt (7,461 comments) says:
    June 13th, 2014 at 9:57 am

    So you would claim that every single case of dispute, that has not been settled, is now before the courts, and that there are no ‘unsettled’ claims, that haven’t been registered with the Courts yet?

    The letter writer was simply talking about those before the Courts – it is not within her power to know of those who are still trying to settle that have not proceeded that far yet. Only any idiot would think the numbers she quotes are the only unsettled claims in existence.

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  17. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ queenstfarmer (733 comments) says:
    June 13th, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Another one that can’t determine the facts. This place is full of them.

    The letter writer is aware of those before the courts. She does not know of those which have not yet been registered with the Courts. The process of getting these things before the Courts is arduous – there is no way that they have all been registered and are ‘on the books’ so to speak.

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  18. peterwn (3,274 comments) says:

    And if the parties can properly define and agree on what the issues are, and not play ‘silly’, one or two High Court consolidated cases should resolve the whole lot.

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  19. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Judith must be attempting to gain an invite to the rectum reamers’ rainbow room. Labour supporters will try anything in their apologist efforts to gain the perverted party some traction.

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  20. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    I cannot believe how ignorant you all are. This has nothing to do with left or right, or supporting Cunliffe or not.

    The process of making a claim, disputing it etc may lead to eventual legal action, if it can’t be sorted. There are a number of ‘unsettled’ claims, that because of that arduous process, are not before the Courts at this stage.

    To take the Judges figures, and say they are ALL that there are, unsettled, is a huge mistake, and an ignorant one. There are many that are still working through the processes and will no doubt eventually make it to Court, if they can’t be settled with the normal negotiations.

    You lot need to get over your idol worship and start looking at reality.

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  21. Colville (2,269 comments) says:

    The main point Doogue DCJ makes is: Cun*liffe is a liar.

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  22. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    The ignorance of the Chief District Court Judge… tell me more about it… ;-)

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  23. freethinker (691 comments) says:

    Not often I can agree with Judith but she correctly implies the whole picture is not revealed – District courts adjudicate on cases up to $200,000 which may explain why so few cases are listed being probably those mainly involved with arguments with EQC/Insurers over apportionment and value of repairs and perhaps the nature of repairs. Currently there are 198 unsettled cases before the High court quake claims, which will reflect the more serious cases of damage mainly being argued with insurers over repair strategies and costs and there are few decisions that set useful precedents that would enable other similar claims issues to be resolved. If the High court achieves the same rate of settlement as the District court in the last 2 years it will take 9 years to settle the current list.

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  24. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    A letter like this is extremely rare. I’m hard pressed to think of an occasion where a senior member of the judiciary took to the Letters to the Editor column of one of our major daily newspapers to effectively rebut an opposition party’s election policy. As smackdowns go, it doesn’t get any more humiliating.

    Judith
    The insurance council puts unresolved claims at around 1,500 or a tenth of what Cunliffe and Cosgrove are claiming. Only a fraction of these make it to the courts. So if the Christchurch District Court has a total 76 cases filed arising from 10,000’s of claims, then applying that percentage to the remaining 1,500 unresolved claims yields the sum total of 1.14 extra claims! Labour wants to hire a bunch of old judges, change the law and create a new sub court for a system that is already expedited and working as quickly as any civil case can be handled in the current system all for the sake of a couple of extra claims! Utter foolishness.

    The policy is shite and this was Justice Doogue’s polite but highly public way of saying it!

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  25. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Judith

    I cannot believe how ignorant you all are. This has nothing to do with left or right, or supporting Cunliffe or not.

    It has everything to do with ‘He said – she said’ – he is a politician trying to find traction with a history of talking crap to try and be popular – she is a valued and respected member of the judiciary… Keep digging Judith.

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  26. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    Nothing to do with Cunliffe? Err, he’s the one pulling daft ideas out of his arse and daring to call them policy. It has every thing to do with Cunliffe.

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  27. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ burt (7,462 comments) says:
    June 13th, 2014 at 10:34 am

    You still don’t seem to get it.

    She is a greatly respected member of society, and far more valuable than Cunliffe will ever be (even in his own mind) BUT, she is only talking about the ‘unsettled’ cases currently before the courts. There are a number of such cases that due to the arduous process of getting them before the Courts, that she does not have or cannot have knowledge of.

    She is only presenting the situation relevant to her position – not the entire picture of ‘unsettled claims’. To think that she is presenting the complete picture, is extremely foolish.

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  28. David Garrett (7,311 comments) says:

    Chief District Court Judge Doogue is probably the most open Chief DCJ we have seen, certainly during my 20 odd years in practice. An organization I act for asked me to do something for it which involved writing to Judge Doogue. I warned that we might not even get a response, much less any action. We had a reply within a week, and the problem was fixed shortly thereafter.

    (Obviously I can’t be more specific; I am probably on the edge of propriety writing this)

    Let’s just say the District Court is in very good hands with Judge Doogue as its Chief of Bench.

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  29. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Judith

    You still don’t seem to get it.

    I think I do get it. Chief District Court Judge Doogue has presented some facts that make Cunliffe look like a complete fool. Putting aside the exact numbers and details just long enough to stop saying . but but but …. lets look at what has happened here. Cunliffe has been paying politics with misery to try and advance his chance of election. Once we acknowledge that he has been economical with the truth for political purposes we can decide which of either Cunliffe or Chief District Court Judge Doogue is presenting a more accurate picture…. Keep digging.

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  30. ciaron (1,434 comments) says:

    So, if I read correctly Judith is saying:

    1/ some cases can take a long time to get to court.

    2/ the CDCJ cannot possibly know how many more cases will get to court.

    3/ therefore the CDCJ hasn’t got a clue or is lying or something.

    Ok,

    1/ is not in dispute.

    2/ I’m not sure how Judith can have an appreciation of the number of cases yet to go to court, and the CDCJ can’t.

    3/…..

    It seems plain to me that what the CDCJ is saying is that everything that can be done, IS being done, and “kiwicourt”® is a cumbersome, superfluous answer to a problem that doesn’t really exist.

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  31. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    It’s times like these we need Dr Cullen in the house. He could hold a press conference and say this is just the Chief District Court Judge wanting a tax cut !

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  32. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ ciaron (1,248 comments) says:
    June 13th, 2014 at 11:05 am

    The CDCJ has presented their perspective only. Which is they are handling everything that comes before them in a precise and efficient manner and therefore by presumption, don’t need assistance.

    But that is not the entire picture, and in fact, it is those that haven’t made it that far where the problem lies. The process to get anything to Court is taking too long. I doubt Cunliffe’s policy will help that in the slightest – I simply wanted to point out that to take the figures presented in the letter, as being the only unsettled claims, is wrong and stupid. You have to consider the whole picture of ‘unsettled claims’, not just those lucky ones that have got that far in the process.

    They are just a part picture of unsettled claims and all one has to do is read the papers to know there are many that haven’t got as far as the Courts yet – for various reasons.

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  33. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Judith

    Yes, and it’s an election year so lets pretend it can all be sorted super quick by a little magic tax payers money and a red logo !

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  34. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    burt

    No, no, no , not ‘Dr.’ Cullen; the person you really need (in fact he will DEMAND it), is ‘SIR’ (and don’t you forget it – even if I am a socialist who ‘hates’ the upper classes), Geoffrey Palmer (labour’s legal expert on everything they don’t like; even when they not asked for an opinion). He will always trot-out a totally ‘unbiased’ (towards labour) ‘legal perspective’ on even the most obtuse matters, so long as it serves ‘the cause’, and gets him noticed (and a free meal…)

    No doubt he will be approached by Radio Red et al, to ‘give an opinion’…

    (No doubt he will also appear on the 1800 ‘news’ this evening…)

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  35. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    Judith: dig, dig, dig, dig, dig.

    It’s all right, you can stop now :-)

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  36. ciaron (1,434 comments) says:

    Judith,

    you’re off an a tangent there. What we are evaluating here is the question: Do we need to set up a dedicated court to hear cases exclusively consisting of insurance disputes following the Canterbury earthquakes?

    Mr Cunliffe thinks so, and has cited a number of cases outstanding to make his point.

    The CDCJ has responded that Mr Cunliffe is mistaken, and that all practicable steps have been taken to give the cases in question priority, and those cases are being resolved (i.e. the courts are not sinking under a backlog).

    Quite frankly, I don’t see why the ones that “haven’t made it that far” are the DC’s problem – nor what difference an extra special court will make. Those cases that you allude to are not at the DC yet because they are still going through other processes.

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  37. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    @ Judith – the issue here is not whether or not the Chief District Court Judge is right or wrong. The issue is that the Chief District Court Judge has felt the need to go public to challenge information put into the public domain by a politician.

    I certainly can’t remember the last time that happened, and the fact that Judge Doogue has done so within 100 days of a General Election makes it even more extraordinary, and even more noteworthy. Judge Doogue is defending her professional and judicial reputation which has been undermined (whether intentionally or otherwise) by statements from the Leader of the Opposition, given that she was the one who gave the direction that earthquake claims were to be prioritised.

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  38. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ ciaron (1,249 comments) says:
    June 13th, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    But you miss the point that there are so many outstanding that haven’t made it to court yet. I do not know who is at fault, but if someone wants to speed the system up by altering the process to get these claims sorted, then that is good. The hold up may be ‘pre- Court’ – obviously from what they Judge has said they are being handled efficiently once in the system – but does the system prior to that stage work as efficiently as it could – with say a separate Court to deal with these kinds of matters alone.

    There is of course the issue that these cases, many of which have been settled by the Courts, are taking up precious Court time that is needed for other cases – the Judge doesn’t mention that in her letter. There mere fact there are still cases in the system is indication alone that somewhere they are not being dealt with in a timely manner – how long ago were these earthquakes?

    @ Keeping Stock (9,957 comments) says:
    June 13th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    That is one of the issues – yes. No guessing which team she votes for! I suspect she is on thin ice – but then she is not a judge to muck around. Lets hope it doesn’t come back to bite her.

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  39. ciaron (1,434 comments) says:

    No Judith, I don’t miss the point. There is a process which the claimant and the insurer must go through before the case can be taken to court, and that process should remain separate from the courts.

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  40. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Judith

    It seems other than apologist Labour activists – you are the only person on this planet that has missed the substance of this thread. Have a cup of tea and count your own fingers, Cunliffe says you have 50,000 – I suspect 8 and 2 thumbs but I can’t be sure – however I’m certainly closer than Cunliffe….

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  41. Albert_Ross (298 comments) says:

    Shouldn’t the newspaper be at least as embarrassed as Cunliffe? They could after all have checked all these facts – they’re presumably no secret, or the CDC Judge wouldn’t write them in a letter to the paper – when reporting the original labour announcement.

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  42. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    No guessing which team she votes for!

    How is that in any way relevant Judith? Judge Doogue was first appointed to the bench in 1994, and governments of both stripes have rewarded her with appointments based, I am sure, on merit, rather than political patronage.

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