Auckland District Law Society challenges Minister Faafoi

No input to commercial rent relief policy

Auckland, 7 October 2021 – Auckland District Law Society (ADLS), New Zealand’s largest voluntary membership organisation for the legal profession is challenging Justice Minister Kris Faafoi to correct a claim made in The New Zealand Herald this week that he received ‘anecdotal evidence’ from ADLS last month before announcing a controversial amendment to the Property Law Act, allowing covid-affected landlords and tenants to renegotiate commercial lease payments.

ADLS President Marie Dyhrberg QC, says she is disappointed.

“No input or advice was requested by the ministry from ADLS, and accordingly, none was given.

“There were no policy discussions, anecdotal or not. The first that we knew of the proposed amendment was the press release from the minister’s office on 28 September.

“We are perplexed by the statement as ADLS was not asked to provide input to the policy as implied. The discussions the minister is referring to simply did not happen.”

Earlier this week, Minister Faafoi told the news media his move was based on ‘anecdotal evidence from discussions and correspondence with lawyers’, including ADLS.

ADLS representatives met with ministry staff on 17 September after being invited to an in-confidence discussion about the ADLS Deed of Lease, which is used by many commercial landlords and their tenants.  This contains a “no access in emergency” clause and the  discussion was confined to the general application of the clause in the current Covid-19 environment, and in the context of the lease.

“At no time did the discussion touch on policy issues, and there was no suggestion that policy changes were imminent,” says Ms Dyhrberg.

“In fact, ADLS has subsequently learned that the government decided to make the amendment to the Property Law Act on 9 September – eight days before Ministry of Justice staff met with ADLS.

“ADLS did not have any input into the policy that culminated in the proposed amendment to the Property Law Act,” Dyhrberg says.

ENDS

To speak with President of ADLS, Marie Dyhrberg QC please call 09 360 4550