Blue Chip investors win Supreme Court appeal

The Bianco apartment building in central Auckland. Apartments in this building were sold as part of the Blue Chip property investment scheme. Photo / Janna Dixon
The Bianco apartment building in central Auckland. Apartments in this building were sold as part of the Blue Chip property investment scheme. Photo / Janna Dixon

A group of investors in Blue Chip have won their Supreme Court appeal against being forced to buy apartments in Auckland that were originally to be funded with assistance from the failed finance group.

The investors had been knocked back by the High Court and Court of Appeal in seeking to be excused from completing the purchase of apartments in the Barclay, Bianco and Icon apartment blocks in central Auckland. They had argued that when Blue Chip marketed its investment schemes it was offering securities to the public in terms of the Securities Act 1978 and was required to provide a prospectus.

In the Supreme Court, Justices Sian Elias, Andrew Tipping, John McGrath, William Young and Noel Anderson agreed that the appellants' Securities Act arguments "are correct."

"When Blue Chip was marketing its investment schemes, it acted in breach of the Securities Act and thus brought into play s37 of that Act which renders unenforceable the allotment of improperly marketed securities and the associated subscription of such securities," the judgment says.

The Supreme Court also held the developers of the apartments to be issuers in terms of the Securities Act, "giving rise to entitlements to relief" under the Act.

"We see the Blue Chip products as providing mechanisms by which Blue Chip sought and obtained financing from the public," the judgment says. "It is true that they were also buying apartments but under the investment schemes the apartments had a very limited function. Provided all went according to plan, the investors were never to occupy the apartments."

When the Blue Chip Group collapsed in 2008 the developments, by separate companies, went ahead and the investors faced difficulties in raising the necessary funds.

They had signed two sets of agreements - the agreement to buy the properties and a separate arrangement with Blue Chip under which "they were entitled to certain financial returns and other assistance."

The court ordered the respondents, development companies Turner and Waverley, Greenstone Barclay Trustees and Grafton Projects to pay costs to the appellants of $75,000 plus disbursements.

The case is now to be returned to the high Court "to make such further orders as may be consistent with this judgment."

- BusinessDesk

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