Costs awarded in Parore-Ridge case

Happier times . . . Adam Parore and Sally Ridge
Happier times . . . Adam Parore and Sally Ridge
Sally Ridge turned down a $250,000 settlement offer one week before her High Court trial with former partner Adam Parore began.

The Auckland socialite and her daughter, Jaime, took Mr Parore to the High Court at Auckland last September seeking a 50 per cent shareholding in the former international cricketer's Small Business Accounting (SBA) company and the back payment of unpaid dividends.

The couple split in 2010 after nine years together. Ms Ridge told the court last September she continued receiving regular dividend payments from the company until September 2011. When they stopped, she was forced to take a mortgage holiday and borrow money.

However, in his judgment released last month, Justice Murray Gilbert said "Ms Ridge's claim fails at the first hurdle".

"There was never any intention that the trustees of the Parore Trust would hold 50 per cent of the shares in SBA on trust for the beneficiaries of the Ridge Trust. This finding is fatal to the plaintiff's claim."

In a costs judgement released yesterday, Justice Gilbert revealed that the Ridges were offered a number of settlements prior to the High Court trial.

The first, on November 15, 2012, was for $240,000, to be paid in 24 monthly instalments of $10,000. The Ridges rejected the offer the following day.

The second offer, on April 16, last year, was calculated by the defendants to represent a cash benefit of $500,000, or a 75/25 allocation in Ms Ridge's favour of all assets at the date of their separation. The Ridges did not respond to the offer, Justice Gilbert said.

A final settlement offer was made on September 6, 2013, valued at approximately $250,000. It was rejected on September 9 - one week before their High Court trial.

In his judgement, Justice Gilbert said at the beginning of the trial the Ridges had filed six causes of action, however by the time their closing submissions were delivered, they had abandoned all but one.

While the abandoned causes of action had no prospect of succeeding and inevitably would have failed, Mr Parore's legal team had to prepare responses nonetheless, Justice Gilbert said.

"There is no doubt that the addition of these causes of action, all of which lacked merit, significantly increased the costs reasonably incurred by the defendants."

He described the Ridges' sole remaining cause of action as "equally hopeless" and awarded Mr Parore scaled costs of $73,232 plus disbursements of $31,610.

Justice Gilbert also awarded Mr Parore a 50 per cent uplift for any costs incurred after January 1, 2013.

Yesterday Mr Parore said the decision spoke for itself, and declined to comment further.

Ms Ridge declined to comment on Justice Gilbert's costs judgement or why the pre-trial settlement offers were not accepted. She said they had yet to decide whether they would appeal Justice Gilbert's original decision.

- By Brendan Manning of APNZ

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