An Auckland businessman who owns a property in a resort centred around a Pauanui golf course doesn't have to join its club and pay it $5070 in membership fees after he won a Court of Appeal fight.

It is not clear what the court's decision means for other property owners in the Lakes Resort community, some of whom are also resisting paying fees.

Hartley Vincent is a co-director of Harpers Fashions, which operates more than 20 women's clothes shops around the country. His family trust owns land in Lakes Resort, a community of around 150 properties around a Pauanui golf course.

A covenant registered against the trust's property says the land owner is to join the golf club, remain a member and meet all levies and charges by the club.


The golf club, according to the covenant, was to be set up as an incorporated society.

But the entity now running the golf club, Lakes International Golf Management, is a company and not an incorporated society.

Lakes International Golf Management sent invoices to Vincent for $5070, representing three years of membership fees for the club.

The businessman, however, argued that because Lakes International was not an incorporated society it was not entitled to enforce the covenant.

A High Court judge ruled last year that Vincent owed Lakes International $5070 plus $602.84 worth of interest. However, Vincent took the matter to the Court of Appeal and yesterday it found in his favour.

Justices Christine French, John Fogarty and David Collins said the definition of "golf club" in the covenant was clear and only permits one meaning.

"The obligations were imposed in relation to a golf club that was to be incorporated as an incorporated society to provide for playing rights on the golf course," the judges said.

The judges "were not without some sympathy" for Lakes International but said they could not justify "departing from the clear words of the covenant". Hamish Fletcher