Halse Bankruptcy Petition Update - by Tristam Price

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Update, 22 Nov: The High Court is to receive submissions from counsel on the application to set aside the bankruptcy application.

To summarise, $33,000 in penalties were imposed by then Chief of the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) James Crichton in 2018. A few months before the legitimacy and the amount of those penalties was brought before the Employment Court, Turuki Healthcare petitioned for the bankruptcy of Mr Halse, director of Hamilton employment advocacy company Culturesafe NZ Ltd. We reported on this in March 2020.

Subsequently, the penalties were reduced to a total of $10,000, and the joint and several component was removed. However, by the time this had happened, Mr Halse had applied for Judicial Review of the Turuki matter and two other actions against Culturesafe.

Leaving aside the issue of whether multiple ERA Members acted outside their powers; the reason for the Judicial Review, we have little information about Culturesafe’s ability to pay $33,000 – or $10,000, in penalties. The High Court had been waiting for the Employment Court decision.

The bankruptcy proceedings remain live and we believe the bankruptcy petition is in relation to the old figure of $33,000 joint and several, even though the new figure of $7,000, Mr Halse and Culturesafe’s share of the $10,000 total. Mr Halse has applied to set aside the bankruptcy notice.

Being a small business owner myself, I am troubled by the existence of a substantially taxpayer funded vendetta against this particular small business. Also, a Charitable Trust appears to be a secondary victim of a broken system. This year, the law firm acting for Turuki lost two lawyers who were associated with the senior counsel and we suspect that the Turuki debacle was a factor in their decision to jump ship. Leighton Associates wishes them well.

Finally, for whatever reason a Compliance Order was not challenged in the Employment Court and for that reason Mr Halse has not named Turuki in his post. However a couple of news publications have named them, as have we in the context of Turuki being a secondary victim.

Here’s Allan Halse’s post:

An open invitation to Stuff/Waikato Times journalists.

It will be interesting to see if any Stuff journalists are at next Monday's High Court hearing to watch and report on the ongoing attempts of an Auckland based Government funded health organisation continue their 2.5-year campaign to bankrupt CultureSafe NZ Ltd Director Allan Halse and shutdown his company which is New Zealand's leading anti workplace bullying organisation.

We believe this Government funded health organisation, who we can't name, has paid more than $250,000 to their lawyer (who Allan also can't name) to carry out this vindictive campaign against Allan and CultureSafe NZ Ltd. You would think that Stuff/Waikato Times would want to expose the absolute wastage of taxpayer funds but no, it seems that isn't important.

Interestingly, the lawyer for the Government funded health organisation, initiated the penalties and damages by:

1. Putting CultureSafe NZ Ltd's name on a MBIE Record of Settlement they weren't a party to.

2. Wrote to the former chief of the ERA claiming that Allan and CultureSafe NZ Ltd had breached the Record of Settlement they weren't a party to, and hadn't agreed to or signed. In fact nothing to do with Allan or CultureSafe NZ Ltd.

3. Advising his Government funded health organisation to bankrupt Allan and shutdown CultureSafe NZ Ltd.

Incidentally, the lawyer is Vice president of ELINZ (an organisation the former chief of the ERA supported) that is trying to "regulate" (shutdown) advocates like Allan because his organisation, CultureSafe NZ Ltd often takes cases on a no win no fee basis and also charges less than ELINZ members. ELINZ don't want competition and what better way to get rid of highly successful competitors than bankrupt them?

And how about the fact that the former Chief of the ERA who fined Allan and CultureSafe NZ Ltd penalties and damages of $33,000, had to "retire" shortly afterwards? Was that newsworthy?

And the fact that the Employment Court recently reduced the $33,000 penalty and damages to $10,000 because the former chief of the ERA illegally charged $3,000 damages, changed the maximum penalty without assessing whether that was fair and made the total penalties and damages "joint and several".

And the fact that the $10,000 penalties are being challenged at the Court of Appeal on Judicial Review? Is that newsworthy?

This case is about freedom of speech, which is guaranteed under section 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

One would have thought that the media and the Media Council who support freedom of speech, particularly in this case which was as suicide intervention on behalf of a client who worked at the "unnamed" Government funded organisation.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Stuff/Waikato Times journalists at the Hamilton High Court at 10am on Monday.

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