Over the past few years team LF have reported extensively on the antics of New Zealand’s qausi judicial tribunals, in particular the antics of its Real Estate Agents Disiplinary Tribunal, aka, the REAA.
Whilst there were a whole raft of problems with this statutory body of significant concern were the judgements of an ex District Court Judge, Paul Barber, who had been appointed as chair to the Authorities Tribunal by National party Minister Nathan Guy in August 2011:
11 AUGUST, 2011
New Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal Chairperson named
District Court Judge Paul Barber has been appointed chairperson of the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, Associate Justice Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.
The Disciplinary Tribunal was established under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008, and deals with the licensing and discipline of real estate agents.
Judge Paul Barber was appointed a District Court Judge in 1981. He retired from the Bench in 1997 but has continued to hold an acting warrant. From 1981 to 1997 Judge Barber worked principally as Taxation Review Authority and also held the position of Pharmacy Authority from 1985.
Since 1997 he has held both Taxation Review Authority and Customs Appeal Authority positions, and has also been hearing Accident Compensation Appeals since 2001.
“Judge Barber’s extensive legal experience will be a great asset to the work of the Tribunal,” says Mr Guy.
Judge Barber replaces former Judge Michael Hobbs who has served two years as Chairperson.
Nathan Guy himself first came to the attention of team LF when our investigations exposed Guy as having played a significant role in a corrupt cover-up of serious allegations of fraud and the subsequent REAA investigation and tribunal proceedings.
Late last year Kiwi blog Whale Oil also picked up on these growing concerns of impropriety and calls for a formal investigation and the resignation of Paul Barber. Whale Oil Journo Stephen Cook undertook his own investigation which further unearthed the fact that Minister Nathan Guy had in fact been in breach of the Real Esate Agents Authority Act when appointing Barber to the role as the ex judge no longer fulfilled the required criteria, as prescribe by the Act.
Following a series of articles drawn from telephone conversations with an intoxicated Paul Barber Stephen Cook ran a final summary of his investigation in November 2015:
MYSTERY ILLNESS STRIKES ‘JUDGE’ PAUL BARBER
by Stephen Cook on November 17, 2015 at 10:00am
THE ‘FORMER’ district court judge who chairs the Crown agency established six years ago to raise confidence in the real estate industry supposedly has a mystery illness which causes symptoms usually associated with winos.
The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal has gone into damage control mode following Paul Barber’s extraordinary outburst in a media interview two months ago where it appeared he was heavily intoxicated.
The phone call followed allegations Barber had obtained the chairman’s position by deceit because he was not a barrister or solicitor at the time of his appointment – a requirement under legislation governing the Tribunal.
In that call, Barber was also confronted about why he continually referred to himself as a district court judge when he no longer had a legal right to do so.
In a follow-up phone call several weeks later seeking further answers about his irrational conduct and failure to respond to written media questions, the 78-year-old again appeared inebriated. He had slurred speech and could barely pronounce the word ‘registrar’.
Such were the concerns that an appellant in one case dealt with by Barber and now the subject of ongoing legal action wrote to the Tribunal seeking to clarify whether the 78-year-old did in fact have a drinking problem.
The Tribunal responded by saying: “…We know that, due to illness, our chairman has a speech impediment which, over a telephone, might give the impression that he was inebriated.”
However, there are now questions about whether the Tribunal is being entirely truthful in its assessment of the now retired district court judge.
According to well-placed sources, the Tribunal has been asked to clarify what exactly Barber’s mystery condition is – and how it is being treated.
If in fact, there is no mystery illness there is a suggestion the Tribunal could face further legal action for making misleading and false statements.
To date, Barber has survived calls for him to be sacked and a review of all tribunal cases he has ruled on over the past four years.
Now LF was advised late last week that the REAA and another National Party minister, Simon Bridge’s made moves to remove Barber from the role.
No doubt of interest to Whale Oil and certainly to team LF is the fact that Barbers departure was not publicized. Nothing was mentioned in the New Zealand Gazzette that we could locate with a quick search.
Somewhat strangely nor did anything make the mainstream media outlets, despite Barbers removal being before the expiration of his tenure being in the public interest and certainly in the interests of anyone who had fallen victim to Barbers unique style and corrupt ways.
Even more strangely Barbers replacement, Former High Court Judge Pamela Andrews appointment was not notified anywhere other than the Government website beehive.govt.nz:
18 MARCH, 2016
Appointments to Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal
Former High Court Judge Pamela Andrews has been appointed chairperson of the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges has announced.
Catherine Sandelin, an Auckland based lawyer, has been reappointed as a member of the Tribunal. Both appointments are for three years.
Ms Andrews’ appointment follows the recent resignation of former District Court Judge Paul Barber for health reasons.
“I am delighted that Justice Andrews has taken up this appointment. Her extensive experience on the Bench equips her well for this challenging role,” Mr Bridges says.
Ms Andrews retired as a High Court Judge in September 2015 following nine years on the Bench in Auckland. Prior to her appointment to the Bench she had been a member of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.
Ms Andrews’ term on the Tribunal will commence in May.
“I would also like to express my gratitude to Judge Paul Barber for the excellent work he has done, not only in the past five years as chairperson but for the 34 years of service to the public of New Zealand as a District Court Judge and chairperson of various tribunals,” Mr Bridges says.
The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal was established under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 and hears charges, applications and appeals relating to the conduct of real estate agents.
The fact is that a number of aggrieved parties who had the misfortune to have appeared before the bent ex judge should have been informed of this development but weren’t.
This come as not surprise to LF, but many New Zealanders will find it strange, especially given the REAA’s normally very proactive media liaison officer Ngaire Vanderhoof’s desire to ensure that all REAA prosecutions are published in the New Zealand Herald and Fairfax papers.
The reality, in our opinion, is that the New Zealand Government has been careful to ensure that Paul Barbers departure was kept quite for good reason.
Both the Solicitor General and the Minister responsible are undoubtedly well aware that the REAA is about to attract several serious damages tort’s, most of which have been born of the corruption of Barber, his two tribunal associates and at least one Minister of the Crown, two REAA registrars and a number of additional officers responsible for overseeing investigations and the Authorities Complaints Assessment Committee’s