Socialite Sally Ridge claimed ignorance during the court fight over shares in former partner Adam Parore’s business.
The interior designer and TV personality told the court it could call her thick but she did not understand the ins and outs of a trust, a recent judgment shows.
The Auckland High Court threw out Ms Ridge and her daughter Jamie’s bid (as trustees) for half of the shares in Small Business Accounting (SBA) which is owned by the Parore Family Trust.
Earlier claims – including one over Ms Ridge and Mr Parore's former home – have been abandoned.
Ms Ridge and Mr Parore came together in 2001 and restructured trust arrangements in 2007. The family assets - including the couple’s Ponsonby property - were transferred to the Ridge Trust, while business assets and liabilities went into the Parore trust.
Ms Ridge’s lawyer, Daniel Grove, had argued that despite the legal ownership, there was a shared intention that assets of either trust were held for the benefit of both trusts equally.
In his judgment, Justice Murray Gilbert said Ms Ridge claimed she was unsure about the details of the restructure and had relied on Mr Parore. She said at trial:
“You could explain them to me and I used to say this to Adam a million times, “My brain doesn’t compute trusts,”
“I don’t get them, don’t understand them, never have and I most probably never will.”
Justice Gilbert said despite such comments Ms Ridge “impressed as an intelligent and capable woman.”
The judge concluded that while Ms Ridge may not have been interested in the legal niceties, she understood the nature and the effect of the arrangements made.
The judge added it was particularly difficult for Ms Ridge to claim there was a clear and unequivocal intention for the assets of the trust to benefit both trusts as her pleadings changed throughout the course of the trial.
Mr Parore's lawyer, Zane Kennedy, said Mr Parore was unavailable to comment. Ms Ridge's lawyer, Daniel Grove, had not responded to NBR's request for comment at press time.