A multi-million-dollar lifestyle subdivision in Hawke's Bay is a step closer after the latest High Court ruling again backed former drinks magnate Stefan Lepionka in his three-year legal fight against a bankrupt land developer trying to prevent him from completing the development.
Last year, the High Court ruled that Lepionka's sale and purchase agreements over the Tukituki property should be upheld, adding that bankrupt developer Garth Paterson had misused deposits.
It also said Lepionka, through his company Lepionka and Company Investments Ltd, should continue to develop the land at Horseshoe Bend on the Tukituki River.
In the latest judgment in the continuing litigation surrounding a 24ha block of land on the banks of the Tukituki River, Auckland High Court Judge Sally Fitzgerald denied action taken by GWP Group, formerly owned by Paterson, for a stay of execution of judgement relating to last year's ruling.
The stay of execution was wanted to prevent settlement of agreements for sale and the purchase of two lots.
Patterson, who is bankrupt in both New Zealand and Australia, had also lodged a caveat over the land, but Justice Fitzgerald ruled that Paterson, as an un-discharged bankrupt, "has no standing" in his personal capacity to lodge a caveat.
"Mr Patterson's approach and conduct in relation to this particular caveat is concerning," she said.
Justice Fitzgerald found that the caveat had been lodged to "frustrate" settlement of land and dismissed the application for a stay of execution.
Parties were instructed to seek to agree costs.
The judgement is the latest in a litany of court actions that date back to 2015.
The long-running sage began when GWP Group, formerly owned by Paterson, set about developing the Horse-Shoe Bend property in 2009, working initially, with Hawke's Bay developer Andy Coltart who, from 2009, lived in one of two houses on the property.
Following a falling out, GLW granted Coltart an option to purchase the lot where his house was located, along with a contractual arrangement giving him the right to roam over the property's common area.
GLW continued to market other lots, and in 2014 entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Stefan Lepionka, who paid a deposit of $463,000 to GLW Group for several planned sections on the Tukituki River's Horseshoe Bend.
However, financial trouble meant GLW defaulted on its $2.6 million mortgage, which was then bought by Lepionka from Westpac to protect his deposit.
A judgement last year dismissed subsequent GLW claims that Lepionka's company had acted unlawfully and had enriched itself unlawfully.
In December, Justice Fitzgerald said the subdivision should be completed within 12 months, with the value of the property put at $4.3m.