The Kaipara District Council has been ordered to pay former chief executive Jack McKerchar more than $18,000 in costs after it sued him for alleged breaches of responsibility.

In May, the Employment Court struck out KDC's case against him on the grounds a confidentiality agreement between both parties barred them from suing each other.

The council's government-appointed commissioners initiated action in the Employment Relations Authority against Mr McKerchar in late 2014, seeking damages for alleged breaches of his responsibilities as the council's CEO in relation to the management of the Mangawhai community wastewater scheme.

The matter was moved to the Employment Court because of intense public scrutiny.


KDC alleged Mr McKerchar's failure to ensure lawful rates assessments and invoices were issued from about 2006 prompted Parliament to pass the Validation Act, which retrospectively legalised the situation.

Mr McKerchar launched a counterclaim, saying the council breached a deed of settlement between them by releasing it to the media. The court also kicked out that claim.

Mr McKerchar's actual legal costs were more than $46,000 and he attempted to reclaim them from the court.

KDC opposed the claim for costs, saying both parties had an equal measure of success and that Mr McKerchar unreasonably refused to attend mediation that deprived the council an opportunity to settle the matter without incurring legal costs.

In his ruling on costs, Judge Bruce Corkill said the Employment Court in May considered a substantially larger amount of time and effort went into Mr McKerchar's application to strike out KDC's proceedings than did his application to dismiss the council's case.

The main claim brought by KDC was factually and legally complex that required the court to review a significant volume of evidence, he said.

Judge Corkill said given the nature of issues that had arisen between both parties and the potential extent of them, it may well have been optimistic to conclude they could have reached an agreement at mediation.

He ordered KDC to pay Mr McKerchar $18,189.