Witness list first snag in contract case

A list of witnesses in the case between property information company RPNZ and the Real Estate Institute was being examined in the High Court at Auckland this week.

Justice Rhys Harrison encouraged the two to consider which witnesses were needed. The case hinges on whether there was a contract to develop a database, Project Confederation.

RPNZ proposed calling chief executive Nigel Jeffries, institute consultant Leonie Freeman, QVRP director Ray Catelan, Quotable Value chief executive Bill Osborne, QVRP board chairwoman Shelly Thomas, former institute president Max Oliver and financial specialist Ron Walton.

Jeffries presented evidence on Monday and was being cross-examined yesterday by institute barrister David Bigio.

RPNZ - formerly QVRP - is suing the institute for $765,629 plus interest and costs for breach of contract and duty of good faith.

Bigio is yet to make his opening submissions on behalf of the institute, but the court will not sit later this week because of Justice Harrison's commitments.

The court heard how costs of establishing the project were to be split between the two parties.

Pam Andrews, the lawyer acting for RPNZ, said the data company was to shoulder the cost of developing the technology, as well as the operating expenses, which were estimated at half the net profit. The remaining profit was to be split equally between the data company and the institute.

"The deal was seen as a win-win situation for both parties," Andrews said. "QVRP would gain access to the crucially important recent sales data and, as a result, capture a higher market share.

"The institute, for its part, would be making a profit from the statistics, which were causing it to lose a significant amount of money at the time. Further, the institute would not be required to provide any capital expenditure, because QVRP had agreed to bear the cost of the technology build."

Andrews said the legal issues to be addressed were the contract between the parties, the terms of their agreement and the departure from the agreement. The case is continuing.

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