A Rotorua moving company, now in liquidation, has won its appeal against a fine imposed after an employee fell off a building being relocated.

The House Movers Limited was fined $51,000 and ordered to pay $40,000 reparation by District Court Judge Michael Behrens QC in July 2013 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employee Justin Morgan.

In July 2012 Mr Morgan climbed on to a prefabricated building being moved to the company's Wikaraka St, Ngongotaha base after it became caught in wires. He slipped on ice and fell 4m, breaking his leg.

House Movers appealed the $51,000 fine to the High Court, claiming it was "manifestly excessive".


In his decision released last week, Justice Patrick Keane allowed the appeal and reduced the fine to $24,000.

Justice Keane accepted House Movers' carelessness lay in "failing to educate and instruct its staff, in a systematic formal way, in safe working practices at height, especially in icy conditions".

However, he found the original judge had overstated the company's level of fault and needed to take into account Mr Morgan's actions.

"Mr Morgan fell from the roof and suffered his injuries, as a result of electing to climb up there, in icy conditions, and not to adhere to House Movers' usual safe work practice, and equipment, which would have eliminated his risk."

During July's hearing company director Dean Namana told the court a significant fine would mean his business would have to close down. He said it had been a tough few years for his company and, while insurance would cover a reparation order, it would not cover a fine.

The House Movers was placed into liquidation by the High Court at Rotorua on February 10 this year and ceased trading on that day.

Related articles:

The first liquidator's report dated March 19 stated the company was placed into liquidation "due to outstanding debt with the Inland Revenue Department". IRD had made a claim for $340,496 for outstanding GST and PAYE payments.