The High Court has dismissed a claim brought by one Bay of Islands real estate agent against a co-owner over allegations of taking files from the agency where they once both worked.
Justice Mathew Downs rejected the case brought by Dianne Wynyard and Bay of Islands Real Estate against her former colleague Irene Bremner.
The two women founded Bay of Islands Real Estate around 2009 but their relationship soured, the judge noted.
So Wynyard brought two causes of action against Bremner: that she breached her fiduciary duty and that she conducted the affairs of the company in a manner which were unfairly discriminatory or prejudicial to Wynyard.
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In 2013, Bremner left the company, went overseas for a few weeks, resigned her directorship, then joined a rival in the same town, Russell, the decision said.
Wynyard claimed Bremner took files and information from their original company and exploited both in her new role working at a rival business. Bremner was liable for post-departure commissions in connection with the rival.
But Bremner said those allegations were "lies". She said the claim was "the latest in a campaign of harassment" by Wynyard involving failed complaints to the Real Estate Authority and Baycorp.
Wynyard said she saw Bremner copy and remove company information in July and August 2013. Wynyard's husband, Warren Wynyard, also said he saw Bremner load company files into her car in June that year.
Neither voiced either allegation until this claim was filed in May 2018, the judge noted.
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The women met in 2004. In 2008, they worked together at Jan Madden Real Estate, which they eventually bought in 2009.
Their new company entered a franchise agreement with Century 21 New Zealand. Things went not badly but, in 2012 and 2013, the relationship soured, there were arguments about how the company should be run and financial matters.
Wynyard told Bremner they could ask Century 21 to be released from the franchise agreement due to their relationship breakdown.
Bremner then packed some of her office belongings and deleted personal email from her computer and old files.
Bremner subsequently joined Mark Macky of Mackys Real Estate, trading as Bayleys in the North, the decision said.
Between January 2014 and May 2019, Bremner sold 16 properties. Bayleys had an agency agreement for each. The sales attracted commissions of $457,070. Wynyard and the company claim these commissions.
Bremner explained how she came to sell the properties for Bayleys, including contact between her and each vendor. Her account was not challenged. She had a pre-existing relationship with four vendors, another two were good friends and she contacted three vendors by publicly available means - the Companies Office, a Trade Me listing and by asking a caretaker for the owner's details.
The judge said he was satisfied Bremner did not take company files or copy company documents, "and equally satisfied her conduct in relation to the sales did not breach her fiduciary obligations."
He dismissed both actions brought by Wynyard against Bremner.
Wynyard who now works for Ray White Russell today told the Herald she was "absolutely disgusted" with the decision and complained about evidence she wanted to bring but which was inadmissible. She was consulting a new lawyer about the opportunity to take the case to the Court of Appeal, she said.
"It's diabolical, absolutely disgraceful," she said of the situation and outcome.
Bremner of Bayleys in the North today told the Herald: "It was a wasteful claim without merit and has been thrown out. I'm now awaiting direction on costs."