Huka Lodge owner loses decades-old legal stoush

Huka Lodge
Huka Lodge

The owner of the prestigious Huka Lodge has lost an appeal against paying a former business partner US$25 million (NZ$32m).

Alex van Heeren and Michael Kidd have been locked in a lenghty dispute since the mid 1990s when Mr Kidd claimed Mr van Heeren duped him out of millions of dollars.

The partners made a fortune in the steel industry in South Africa but also owned assets in the Pacific like New Zealand's Huka Lodge and Fiji's Dolphin Island.

When the 16-year partnership ended, Mr Kidd received just US$3 million, he claimed it was worth US$ 38.5 million.

At the centre of the dispute was an agreement which ended the partnership, what's known as an indemnity document.

That document was finally set aside by South African courts which paved the way for Mr Kidd to sue Mr van Heeren in New Zealand.

Mr Kidd won an interim US$25 million order which was immediately appealed by Mr van Heeren.

However, in a judgement released Friday afternoon, the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr van Heeren's action, ruling he must pay the US$25m plus costs.

The final amount may even be higher. The Court of Appeal described the US$25m as a conservative figure which could be proved wrong by an ongoing mutual accounting process.


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