Kiwi Couple Sues Lawyers for Denial of Holiday Perk in Luxury Resort

By @diplomatist10 on
Clouds are pictured early morning on the Matterhorn mountain in the ski resort of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps
In Photo: Clouds are pictured early morning on the Matterhorn mountain in the ski resort of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps August 4, 2014. Reuters

The Kiwi couple who founded an ace resort, Matakauri Lodge, that played host to Prince William and Kate this year, 2014, filed a lawsuit against their own lawyers for causing the loss of a perk. reported that the couple had etched an eternal privilege of free stay for a week in the resort once a year in the sales agreement when they sold the resort. The couple, Graeme and Susan Shaw, started the exclusive Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown and sold it in 2001.

Today, it is a super luxury resort charging $595 to $12,750, a night. It offers great amenities, including access to infinity pool, luxury spa, restaurant and magnificent views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables.

American Owner 

The lodge changed many hands and has become the luxury getaway in New Zealand. Now, the property is owned by American billionaire Julian Robertson. Known as The Wizard of Wall Street, Robertson bought the lodge in 2009 and removed all free board perks of the former owners. The perk was dropped from the sales agreement when Robertson took over the property.

Robertson went in for a total renovation of the property and re-opened Matakauri in late 2010, in great style. The managing director, Jay Robertson, who is the son of senior Robertson, made clear that Matakauri was sold to them without any obligation to host the ex owners.

Free Stay Denied

The couple became furious after they were stripped of the privilege of free luxury stays in the top resort. They took the matter to court and sought compensation from lawyers for the denial of privilege owners to entertain their claim. When the Shaws sold the lodge in 2001, for $7 million, they had a clause written into the sales agreement which said, they will be entitled to a week's free stay at full board every year.

Lawyers Dragged to Court

Feeling hurt, the Shaws moved the High Court and took their lawyers to task. The Shaws sued the lawyers MaCalister Todd Phillips, for $215,752 in compensation and $60,000 in general damages for causing distress and loss of enjoyment.

They claimed the lawyers manipulated the wording of their perk clause and inflicted losses for them. They wanted the perk to be restored as an obligation to everyone who bought the lodge in the future.

But the High Court in Invercargill overturned their plea and ruled that the Shaws deserve no compensation as they filed their claim against the law firm too late. In New Zealand, any claim emanating from a breach of duty has to be settled within six years from the loss of the privilege. 

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