QLDC has court cost blowout

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Queenstown Lakes District Council has blown its defence budget.

Regulatory and corporate services boss Roger Taylor is warning of a possible $300,000 blowout in legal fees to defend resource consent and planning decisions.

If Taylor’s dire prediction comes true, QLDC could spend $800,000 on lawyers and independent experts during the council’s financial year.

The blowout was more than 50 per cent over its monthly budget by the end of October.

In a paper this month, Taylor explains how most costs stem from appeals against consents or district plan changes, together with “judicial reviews” such as the recent challenge to QLDC’s liquor licensing policy.

Taylor says “a relatively simple” three-day case in the Environment Court costs about $40,000 – roughly half each to lawyers and experts.

And even if QLDC wins, Taylor says, the judge usually awards only one-third back in costs.