Christchurch lawyer ordered to pay $205K

The lawyer failed to insure a deceased estate’s property which was consequently damaged in the 2011 earthquake

Christchurch lawyer ordered to pay $205K
A Christchurch lawyer has been ordered by the Christchurch High Court to pay $205,000 plus costs arising from the damage to an estate’s property.
 
Nicholas Rout is said in a Stuff report to be trustee and executor in the estate of Judith Hampton who died in September 2010 and whose main asset was a house in Burwood.
 
Rout failed to insure the house after its policy expired November 2010 subsequently leaving the house uninsured when the February 2011 earthquake struck.
 
According to the report, the house was valued at $380,000 before it was damaged, but was later sold for just $175,000 in August 2011.
 
Rout, who did not defend himself in the High Court, was ordered by Justice Rachel Dunningham to pay $205,000, the difference between the house’s value pre-earthquake and its value sold “as is,” and $5,205 in costs for proceedings removing him as trustee of the estate.
 
“There was obviously a known risk in Christchurch with the 4 September earthquake having occurred only a month prior to the insurance policy falling due ... there was sufficient cash in the estate to pay the premium,” said Justice Dunningham, according to the publication.
 
“It would appear the failure to pay the insurance premium was simply an oversight and not because some special circumstances arose which made it impracticable or unreasonable to require the trustee to insure,” she said.

The Court also ordered Rout to indemnify Martin Witty, acting now on behalf of the estate, from an liability due to the lack of insurance.
 

Related stories:
Lawyer pleads not guilty in fraud case
Struck-off lawyer pleads guilty to dishonesty
 

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