Judge rules on Weir judicial review
A High Court judge has ruled that Council was required by law to put coastal hazard information on Land Information Memorandums (LIMs) relating to coastal properties in the district.
In a just-released, interim decision, Judge Joe Williams says under Section 44A(2)(a) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, Council had no choice but to note coastal hazard information, contained in the Shand Report, on LIMs.
However the judge was critical of Council's actions in expressing the hazard information on LIMs as lines on coastal maps. He said the lines were "starkly simplistic" as a summary of the complex Shand information and "have the potential to seriously affect the value and marketability of coast properties".
Mayor Ross Church says the judgement on matters of law is welcome.
"Our legal advice was that if Council held any information about a potential hazard, affecting a particular property, we were legally bound to alert prospective purchasers by noting that on any LIM requested for the property. This judgement says our interpretation of the law was correct."
The judge's findings were in response to an application for a judicial review, lodged earlier this year by Peka Peka residents Mike and Veronica Weir.
Judge Williams found that Council had no discretion as to whether it put known hazard risk information on LIMs, if it was to comply with the law and fulfil its obligations to "warn the market about the potential local effects of a global phenomenon."
The interim decision by Judge Williams makes no mention of costs and recommends the parties reconvene in the New Year "to consider amendments to LIMs to ensure clarity fairness and balance".
However in the past week Mayor Church says Council has already moved to change the wording of LIMs to reflect the wider scientific debate. It has also removed the shoreline projection lines from the LIM itself, instead directing prospective purchasers to the Council website.
"So our own internal review, by coincidence, came up with exactly the remedy the Judge is suggesting. However, the Court's decision is very helpful in reinforcing the approach we have already taken."