Barry Hart loses chance to appeal bankruptcy

Barry Hart

Struck-off Auckland lawyer Barry Hart remains bankrupt, after failing to front with a security of costs payment for his Court of Appeal hearing today.   

His lawyer Davina Murray, a former Maori party candidate, had hoped to appeal against Mr Hart's December 17 bankruptcy, but a failure to make a $5880 security payment on time meant the appeal was struck out.

Ms Murray, who was charged early last year with smuggling an iPhone 4, cigarettes and a lighter to convicted rapist and murderer Liam Reid in 2011, was herself later ruled bankrupt by the Auckland High Court.

The debt-ridden Mr Hart was made bankrupt in the Auckland High Court on December 17. ANZ bank, originally owed more than $30 million by Mr Hart, made the application over an unpaid damages claim of $34,000.

Mr Hart's debt to ANZ was reduced to $17.5 million following a number of mortgagee sales.

He was struck off last year after a lawyers' disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of professional misconduct by grossly overcharging some of his clients.

Last week, Chief High Court judge Helen Winkelmann and Justice Graham Lang threw out his strike-off appeal.

Today, Ms Murray argued the bankruptcy appeal should be adjourned because Mr Hart had failed to make the $5880 security payment required for the hearing because he had no money.

An application was filed this week against the payment of security costs.

Justice Mark O’Regan said the security costs would still need to be paid, regardless of any adjournment.

“Mr Hart hasn’t got any funds – time is against him. We need the adjournment to raise funds,” Ms Murray said.

“Time wasn’t against him. If he had an issue with payment, why did he apply just before this hearing and not in December after the bankruptcy hearing? That would have been the time to apply,” Justice O’Regan said.

The failure to pay the security prompted ANZ lawyer Laura O’Gorman to apply to have today’s appeal struck out, which, after a short adjournment, Justices O’Regan, Terence Arnold and Rhys Harrison agreed to.

Mr Hart’s lawyers can still appeal the bankruptcy to the Supreme Court, but in the meantime he will be headed back to the Court of Appeal on March 19 to appeal an earlier summary judgment finding he owed ANZ $20 million.

Mr Hart, who sat at the back of the court, declined to comment afterwards.

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