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Apple Fields waits on Privy Council

By Chris Hutching

Friday 27th June 2003

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Apple Fields' main shareholder Tom Kain returned from a Privy Council hearing in London last week that may benefit the company by about $10 million if successful.

But Mr Kain isn't stacking his bets on the attempt to overturn a deal involving land north of Christchurch.

The company's counsel, John Fogarty QC, argued that the mortgagee of the property had failed to meet a reasonable duty of care to take steps to obtain best price at the time of the sale, which was sold to a related company without marketing it.

But respondent Damesh Holdings argued that it needed to capture a bank writeoff and this necessitated prompt action and in the circumstances it had met the required duty of care and had the support of Apple Fields' directors at the time.

The decision by the London law lords has been reserved.

During the period Mr Kain was in London the share price bounced up but has returned to levels around 4c.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange this week Apple Fields also outlined progress on the residual rezoning interests it holds in a limited number of orchards owned by third-party investors on the periphery of Christchurch.

In a recent case relating to land on Johns Rd in the north, and at Yaldhurst in the west, the High Court has declined an appeal by the Canterbury Regional and Christchurch City councils, holding that the Environment Court acted within its jurisdiction in invoking section 293 of the Resource Management Act in deciding that it wished to consider the merits of rezoning the land from rural to living.

Following this decision the company, in conjunction with neighbouring landowners and in consultation with the local communities and the Christchurch City and Canterbury Regional councils, will confirm development plans for both areas, that provide design concepts and address servicing issues.

The development plans will form the basis of presentations to the Environment Court. If accepted, the company will be entitled to a share in developments on the properties .

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