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Update: Oravida in High Court property squabble, company directors called to give evidence

Update: Late yesterday Oravida and Dockland advised the High Court they were able to settle on confidential terms, bringing the proceedings to an end.

Oravida Property and its directors were at the High Court today in a dispute with Dockland Shed Leases over a balcony Oravida installed at its Auckland waterfront office.

Oravida Property, which is wholly owned by Chinese exporter Oravida Ltd, is this week asking to set aside an interim injunction ordered by Justice John Priestley which halted work on the balcony addition.

In 2011 Oravida purchased a Princes Wharf building but Dockland Shed Leases owns the sublease for the land.

Dockland Shed Leases, co-directed by Mark French and former Strategic Finance consultant Brian Fitzgerald, is part of a wider group of Dockland companies which leases property on Auckland’s waterfront.

Oravida's lawyer, Stephen Hunter of Gilbert Walker, today told Justice Kit Toogood the heart of the dispute was whether Oravida needed Dockland’s consent to add the balcony, which Dockland claims materially alters the building’s exterior.

Dockland claims if it allows Oravida to build a balcony, other tenants would want to follow. The landlord previously argued during the injunction hearing it would suffer irreparable harm if the balcony were built because the company is a lessor of other properties in around the wharf.

Oravida was nearly finished adding the balcony when the injunction was obtained and work halted.

Today, Oravida directors Julia Xu and David Wong-Tung gave evidence claiming Dockland tried to sell Oravida its lease for $250,000 after the injunction hearing.

Oravida’s lawyer says the sale proposal shows Dockland has a price tag, despite claiming in an earlier court hearing that damage would be irreparable if the balcony was built.

Oravida has made headlines recently regarding visits to its Chinese office from Justice Minister Judith Collins, who is married to Mr Wong-Tung.

sflores@nbr.co.nz

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