A local rugby league club has been awarded just a fraction of the $24,000-plus it was seeking after a two-year rift which ended up before the Sports Tribunal.
In a decision released late last month Sports Tribunal chairman Dr James Farmer ordered Bay of Plenty District Rugby League to pay Central Rugby League Club $4500 in costs.
It followed a decision in October last year in which the tribunal upheld an appeal by the members of the club's governing committee against Bay of Plenty District Rugby League.
The heart of the appeal was the suspension of the club committee in December 2018 was not legally valid, an AGM where a new committee was elected was null and void and the original committee should be reinstated.
The committee filed an appeal to the Sports Tribunal after an appeal with New Zealand Rugby League to get the committee reinstated was heard and dismissed in February last year.
In the October finding the tribunal sided with the original committee and found the suspension was "an egregious breach of natural justice".
Central Rugby League Club since sought costs from Bay of Plenty District Rugby League. It said counsel spent 117 hours on the case since March 2019 and asked for $24,016.21 plus GST, including the $500 appeal filing fee.
It argued costs should be awarded because it was an exceptional case due to the appeal's success, "a hostile takeover of the club" and because the suspension had happened while the club was trying to address an original complaint.
Bay of Plenty District Rugby League said the case was not exceptional and it had "displayed no cruel intent, no malice, and at all times has attempted to constructively work with the appellant throughout the dispute".
The league also argued some of the money had been spent on other grievances and issues not related to the tribunal's original decision.
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In its finding, the tribunal said the club's lawyer had spent a significant proportion of time on matters not directly dealt with by the tribunal.
"It is not our role to comment or make any findings on any of the numerous allegations ... but we do say that we think it likely that a large part of [the] legal bills relate to those matters and are not within the scope of what the tribunal dealt with in its decision," the finding said.
"On the other hand, we do not think that, in the light of our findings, we cannot simply ignore the serious nature of the unlawfulness of BOPDRL's actions."
The tribunal ordered the rugby league to pay the club $4000 plus a $500 appeal filing fee.