Thursday, 20 August 2009

Justice last

Some very significant things have happened in the last few days.
A few months ago my husband (personally in his name but related to our business) got a Statement of claim for civil damages. It was from a woman he met once and was for an alleged breach of oral contract and subsequent alleged losses ...all for a quote he gave 5 months prior.

It was out of the blue and cost her $77 to lodge the claim in court.It was the first he had ever been to court.
Our business didn't deal in oral quotes. She was trying to claim scam over $6000 from us and gave no details how she arrived at the amount except for almost $600 in legal costs (to prepare the Statement of claim we presumed). Inconceivable.
For over 4 months it has consumed our life, though my husband only had to go to court in the city twice.
Preparation of our defence and witness statements took hours upon hours ...actually days.
There were sleepless nights and the worry of it.
The worse that could happen was he has to pay heed to her ridiculous, inconceivable claims and pay the money.

That it could proceed to a court hearing without someone really looking at the truth of the matter it is inconceivable.

A date was set for a mediation session at the court in mid July.We cut short our planned holiday away to be there ...or else they could have ruled against us in our absence. The woman did not show but her Barrister's secretary did only to insist on going directly a hearing. DH waited 3-4 hrs for a 5min chance to speak , and only a hearing date was set for a month later.

By all accounts a barrister was unnecessary , Dh represented himself.
The woman didn't show at the hearing only her barrister was there.
Our case was listed for mid afternoon , the 2nd case on the appointed hour. I accompanied my DH this time.
The courtroom opened , the two Plaintiffs and two defendants entered, the parties Cases 1 & 2, stood for Assessor as requested by the court secretary. It was otherwise informal.
The Assessor asked each person to identity themselves. then said Case 1 would likely be 30mins and that we could go outside and try to resolve the matter amongst ourselves.
We went outside with the Barrister, a very nice man by all accounts . A little small talk followed and then he asked if we were prepared to settle...

Dh : "No "
Barrister : "okay , we will let court decide"

He also told us he didn't normally deal in civil claims but murder and manslaughter cases, he mentioned he had been before Judge X in the Supreme Court and Judge Z in the District court already that morning.

The first case was actually 1hr.15mins long. We started to get worried we wouldn't make it back in time to get our sons from daycare. I made hasty arrangements, just in case, with my Sister in law.

Then it was our turn after 2 hr 30min wait.
It was very intimidating. Dh was nervous. The Barrister spoke first. He objected to us introducing more evidence , despite the fact Dh has been told he could. Incorrectly so it seems.
The Assessor explained at length why he couldn't. Ok .

The Plaintiff had sent her documents back to us by fax late on the last possible day after they had received our statements. We didn't have same opportunity they ahd to be lodged at the court.

In civil cases the court makes decisions based on written evidence submitted 14 days prior to the hearing. It was incredulous we couldn't respond to her false claims in her statement.
Still DH was able to read them out. He was very nervous but did a great job.
In the end the Assessor said it was 'inconceivable' that 'we' would have entered an oral contract as Plaintiff had stated .
At best her claims of loss - were not proven , excessive and were not even in her name but other names and actually in name of a business for what was personal quotes...her Barrister couldn't explain how the sum of approx $6000 was derived nor the discrepancies.

DH wanted to say surely they had also broken some tax laws but didn't.

The Barrister used some fancy legal terms and tried to argue a few points.He lost us.

In the end about 40 mins after we entered the Assessor started summing it up.It was ruled in our favour though at first it was hard to follow him. The case against Dh was dismissed.

Justice prevailed , though at significant cost to our mental health and untold stress.
We didn't have legal costs thank goodness.

The Barrister shook hands at the end and explained a few other things. He was a character indeed.

He took the case as a favour. Still the woman is going to be charged by him ...I don't know what the going rate is for a criminal barrister doing a civil case but she deserves everything she has got coming to her.
I am just thankful it was resolved and the case is over (God I hope so).
I am relieved we can move on to better things and put the whole saga behind us.

We paid our $32 for parking (cost twice as much as lunch did).
The drive out of the city took us 1hr 50 mins and we made it to preschool at 5.56pm with 4 mins to spare.
The calls of congratulations from family and friends were heartwarming.
I'll tell you the other significant things tomorrow ...

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