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Elderly Blue Chip investors shattered at court ruling

Friday 3rd December 2010 2 Comments

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Northland pensioners Bruce and Judy Bartle head into Christmas not knowing if they will keep their home, and despairing for hundreds of other investors in the failed Blue Chip property schemes.

Mrs Bartle, 70, said she sobbed today when she heard she and husband, Bruce, 72, had lost their Supreme Court case against GE Custodians, which advanced them more than $600,000 to buy an Auckland apartment under a Blue Chip scheme.

The Supreme Court overturned an earlier Court of Appeal ruling, and found that the loan was not oppressive. It ordered the Bartles to pay $25,000 in costs.

The Bartles said today they had thought they were borrowing $137,000 in a joint venture with Blue Chip to buy an Auckland apartment. The loan eventually climbed to $629,000, with their Whangarei house as collateral.

GE Custodians, which lent the Bartles the money, sold the apartment for $250,000 when the Blue Chip scheme failed.

Mrs Bartle said they had no idea what would happen. They did not know if they could stay in their Whangarei home, and they did not know what would happen over the $629,000 loan, which Mrs Bartle said was not the amount they originally signed for.

The Supreme Court case was seen as a test case for many elderly investors who faced losing their homes.

Before today's ruling the Court of Appeal had found the loans were oppressive, following on from the High Court finding the Bartles had little understanding of the scheme, which was very disadvantageous for them. It concluded the loans were not in breach of reasonable standards of commercial practice and thus were not oppressive.

The Appeal Court decision was challenged by GE Custodians in the Supreme Court, which allowed the appeal and set aside Appeal Court orders.

Mrs Bartle said she felt very bad for the hundreds of other pensioners who owned their own homes, who had invested in a Blue Chip scheme and who now faced the same uncertain future.

"We don't need this at this time of our life. The cruel part of it is we won in the Court of Appeal."

She said they had no idea of what would happen, although their lawyer Paul Dale said he hoped GE would not be insensitive enough to force them out of their home.

Mrs Bartle said it had taught her not to trust anyone. Faith and "lots of lovely friends" would carry them through a stressful time.

"We believe God will look after us. We can't call on anyone higher than that."

She also said she had forgiven people who put them in such a bad position.

"What is the point in harbouring things like that? You get bitter and it only eats at you. What is left of life I want to enjoy."



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Comments from our readers

On 3 December 2010 at 4:24 pm Steve Gardner said:
What a sorry saga. I do hope that some humanity will prevail and the Bartles will at least be left in peace for their retirement.
On 3 December 2010 at 9:05 pm arty said:
One would hope that this does not mean every smooth talking salesperson has been just given the right by the courts to not disclose the true nature of finance contracts. The GE loan book was purchased by Marac in NZ. On the otherside, the saying "trust no one" is the rule everyone needs to apply, critcal when money is involved.
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