Who has the final say on expert determinations?

The recent High Court case Marquis Property Developments Ltd v Lorenzen [2015] NZHC 694 highlights the Court’s reluctance to get involved in binding expert decisions.

A dispute arose between Mr and Mrs Kemp and their son in law regarding a property development project that they jointly undertook.

It was agreed that an expert would settle the matters and the decision would be:

“fully & finally binding on the parties”  and that “no further legal action will be commenced or continued in respect of the disputed matters except in relation to the enforcement of the expert’s decision.”

The expert reached a decision and ordered each party to pay the other a sum of money. However, the Kemps were not satisfied that the expert had considered all of their issues.

The expert refused the Kemps’ request to revisit the matter, stating that he was unableto re-open the case as the decision was final and binding.

The Kemps subsequently brought the matter before High Court. Although they gained sympathy, the Court was unwilling to interfere with the expert’s binding decision.

This case serves as a reminder not only to be cautious of entering into business transactions with family members,but also to be aware of the Court’s reluctance to interfere with experts’ decisions when the parties have agreed that those decisions will be final and binding.

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