A barrister says now the "hysteria" over methamphetamine contamination has been debunked, he questions rulings against real estate agents prosecuted over property contamination, saying many could now be deemed innocent.
Aucklander John Waymouth, who represents real estate agents before judicial authorities, said the report out yesterday from the Prime Minister's Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman could change the landscape for agents who had action taken against them.
He called the report "a vindication of the actions of many innocent real estate agents who had been disciplined and penalised by real estate industry regulatory bodies".
Waymouth said he was reluctant to name any clients "because I don't want their names out there again", but he asked why previous meth standards had not been questioned more robustly.
"Real estate industry and regulatory bodies failed to question the hysteria that was unsupported by any scientific evidence at all, and indeed for some years experts like Dr Nick Kim from Massey University had been stating exactly what Sir Peter Gluckman is now stating," Waymouth said.
"It could be argued that the unregulated, untrained testing companies for their own self-serving reasons created the meth issue when no scientific reasons existed to substantiate the supposed health issues – indeed contrary evidence existed."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there would be no compensation for people who had been affected by meth contamination laws.
The government report showed there was no evidence third-hand meth exposure posed a health risk.
However, Ardern said the government would not look into compensating people who had been evicted, lost out on rent, or seen their property values decline from having meth-contaminated status.
"There has been no mandatory requirements around for those particularly who may have had that experience in a private capacity," she said.
The Herald has reported many cases of agents appearing before judicial authorities for selling meth-contaminated properties.
For example, on December 23 last year, the case was reported of a young family suing a real estate agent and his firm after a property marketed as "a great family home" was found to be contaminated with P.
But Auckland District Law Society president Joanna Pidgeon said judicial rulings would hold because they were based on the New Zealand Standard which still applied, she stressed.
"A scientist has issued a report but that doesn't overturn the standard because scientists issue reports all the time. But the national standard is a New Zealand-wide consultation process," she said.
Agents have appeared before the Tenancy Tribunal, Real Estate Authority, Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal and the District Court.
Waymouth asked if the standard was correct, given Gluckman's report.
The new report debunked the myth of third-hand contamination, he said, which raised the issue of agents now being seen as innocent of charges laid against them.
"The issue is not so much the New Zealand Standard. It is that my clients were convicted for failing to warn of health consequences. But as the new report says, there are no health consequences in third-hand situations."
Waymouth called for Real Estate Institute action to clarify agents' responsibilities, given the new report.
The institute yesterday called on the Real Estate Authority to issue new guidelines for agents dealing with meth issues.
- additional reporting NewstalkZB