Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Breeder told to move horses off land he sold

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

An Auckland horse breeder and member of the Racing Board must move his bloodstock business off land he sold for $3.1 million last year after he failed to get the High Court to grant an injunction.

A company owned by Rod Croon - a former president of the Auckland Trotting Club - has filed a claim against Maureen and James Conquer, who live on a 15.4ha property in Clevedon where he has commercially bred horses for the past 11 years.

Croon sold the property to a family trust connected to businesswoman and restaurateur Maureen Maxwell (now Maureen Conquer) last year.

James Conquer, who works for Barfoot & Thompson, was the real estate agent for the sale.

The defendants were in a relationship at the time and married shortly after the property changed hands.

Croon's property had sat on the market for $3.5 million for a number of months in 2013 but did not sell.

James Conquer then approached Croon and advised him he knew of a potential buyer, who turned out to be his fiancee.

There is a dispute between the parties about when Croon knew that Maxwell was engaged to Conquer but it is agreed he was aware of it before the property changed hands in the second half of last year.

There were negotiations over the price of the property between Croon and Conquer in July last year and it settled in September, selling for about $3.1 million.

The Conquers last December sent a proposal to Croon for him to lease the land where his bloodstock business was operating for $80,000 a year for five years. But Croon rejected this and told the Conquers he believed the five-year lease was already included in the purchase price, which they say is the first they had heard of this idea.

He was given an order to vacate the property.

Croon then went to the High Court, claiming the parties agreed that the price of the property was reduced from $3.5 million to $3.1 million to reflect him prepaying the lease for five years.

Croon has brought a claim against the Conquers alleging Maureen Conquer and the trustees who now own the property made misrepresentations to induce him to enter into a contract.

Second, Croon says he had a mistaken understanding when entering into the deal and alleged Conquer and the trustees knew this was the case but did not put him right.

He is either seeking a cancellation of the sale agreement or $400,000 compensation.

Croon also alleges James Conquer breached his duties to him by preferring his own interests and those of his now-wife over his client's interests.

Croon this month sought an interim injunction, effectively letting him keep his business on the land while this wider dispute is resolved.

This was denied by Justice Susan Thomas, who said the mistake plank of Croon's claim was unlikely to succeed.

"The evidence shows that, at best, any mistake was in Mr Croon's mind as his own affidavit appears to acknowledge," she said.

In dismissing the application, Justice Thomas said Croon's business had six weeks to find alternative accommodation for the horses and vacate the property.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 29 Nov 2014 14:26:14 Processing Time: 765ms