Kristen Darby, the estranged wife of high-profile southern developer John Darby, has lost a court challenge over assets, meaning a company he directs can continue to sell Central Otago properties.
Associate Judge Dale Lester has ruled in the High Court at Invercargill that Pisidia Holdings, of which John Darby is the sole director, can remove seven notices of claim which Kristen Darby had registered against it.
The court decided she does not have an interest in properties which Pisidia owns: land subdivided into seven lots.
The decision said the pair were married "but their relationship has come to an end."
Lady Deborah Chambers QC acted for Kristen Darby and the judge said the central issue in the case was whether John Darby's directorship of Pisidia and his "presumed beneficial interest through the Karearea Trust" meant that he had an interest in the land owned by Pisidia.
"Kristen says John does have an interest in the land and that interest is relationship property and therefore the notice of claim should remain," the decision said.
Chambers argued that the relationship between the couple began in 1995, before the purchase of the properties and the sale of shares in Pisidia to the Wyuna Trust, then later the Karearea Trust.
"Ms Chambers' submission is that the disposition by John of his shares in Pisidia has the effect of defeating Kristen's claim to any claim or right to the shares," the decision said.
Pisidia's counsel argued against that, citing the timing of John Darby's sale of shares, saying that was the important timing, rather than the sale of the land, which had always been held by Pisidia.
The judge said the fundamental difficulty for Kristen Darby's notice of claim was the way in which the land was held.
"I do not accept that Kristen has an interest in Pisidia's land," the decision said.
Darby's projects include his involvement in the $100 million Tara Iti golf course and resort project north of Auckland with American billionaire Ric Kayne, the luxury Millbrook resort near Lake Hayes, Clearwater at Christchurch and Jack's Point at Queenstown.
His business is landscape architects Darby Partners which has developed more than $2b worth of projects.