Two sisters have battled in the High Court over whether one should know more about the financial affairs of a New Zealand trust that has already paid out millions of dollars.

Prudence Addleman and Annette Jamieson grew up in Australia, although their father Alexander Jamieson had businesses elsewhere.

Prudence is four years older than Annette and has lived in England since the 1970s and gave evidence via video link in the Auckland High Court from her holiday home in Madeira.

Annette lives in Sydney and has needed nursing care since breaking her spinal cord in a swimming accident in the summer of 1972.


She was awarded a then-record damages payout in the early 1980s from the local council in Northern Sydney of A$981,333 ($1,086,195).

Annette entrusted this money to her father and agreed for it to be used to buy farmland in East Auckland so it could be subdivided.

The subdivision was very successful and in 1990 the Lambie Trust was set up in New Zealand with the main purpose of ensuring Annette's welfare and financial security.

A year after their father died in 2001, the trust distributed $4.26m to Prudence and a lawyer acting for it wrote to her saying the sum was a full and final distribution.

In 2014, Prudence's lawyers wrote to the trustees requesting financial information going back 24 years to "ensure trust property is being properly managed..."

The trust lawyers responded saying the request was surprising and unreasonable.

Prudence in 2015 then issued High Court action against the company managing the trust, which Annette is the director and shareholder of.

Prudence alleged that since late 2001 she had made at least nine requests for information about the trust and that these were largely refused.

She wanted all trust documents since it was set up, including financial statements of companies which it had invested in.

Prudence said she wanted to know her father's wishes for her and that the trust was being properly run.

But Justice Mark Woolford, who heard Prudence's claim, said in a judgment released publicly this month that she already knew her father's wishes and had accepted in cross-examination that they had talked about them before his death.

"Although Prudence maintains that she is acting for altruistic reasons, I am of the view that in reality she is looking at the possibility of making a further claim against the trust," the judge said.

Justice Woolford also said that Jamieson was a very private man and did not publicise his affairs to the world and that Annette had described herself as "fiercely private and reclusive".

"The nature of the trust's creation, and its use to support Annette financially since her accident, means that disclosure of the information sought will result in disclosure of information personal to Annette," the judge said.

"Prudence seeks disclosure of, and speculates as to, distributions from the trust to Annette. She queries Annette's expenses. Annette is entitled to some privacy as to her financial affairs and information. The nature of the trust and the breadth of the information sought by Prudence means that disclosure will considerably expose Annette's personal information to Prudence. The extent to which the trust was kept absolutely confidential prior to 2002 demonstrates that Annette and Mr Jamieson did not wish this personal information to be shared," he said.

The judge was of the view that this weighed against providing the information to Prudence.

He considered a range of other factors, including that Prudence had already received some of the documents.

"Prudence threatened proceedings against their father's estate and did in fact institute proceedings against their mother's estate. Given that history there is a real danger that providing further information, however innocuous, may provide the basis for further litigation and associated disintegration of familial relationships," the judge said.

He did not think it was appropriate for the court to order disclosure.

"The trust was settled with the primary purpose of ensuring Annette's welfare and financial security. Her needs are great. Prudence has already received a generous distribution from the trust. She has no need for further provision. I accept
there is no real prospect of her receiving any further distribution. Prudence claims to be only after information but I am of the view that the provision of that information may well lead to further intra-familial discord. Annette's privacy should be respected," he said.

He dismissed Prudence's application for access to the information.