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Trucking boss finally coughs up, ruins our (and other media’s) story

In August 2023 we reported that “[a transport company] director has been named as the second defendant, and Herald has gone to the trouble of applying for in-Court media coverage, and the MBIE Labour Inspectorate is involved in separate proceedings”.

Most of the developments since then have been behind the scenes.  But if we start a job, we have to finish it. 

The Employment Relations Authority had ordered Star Moving Ltd to pay its former employee Mr Ugone $63,939 in unpaid wages, holiday pay, Kiwisaver, compensation and legal costs (rounded to the nearest dollar), plus a $4,000 penalty to the Crown, but no payments were made, hence the application to the Employment Court for sanctions against the director, Stuart Biggs.

On 21 March 2024 the Employment Court ordered the director Mr Biggs to pay a further $20,000 in penalties (half to Mr Ugone) and $14,288 in costs within 21 days.  Judge Smith warned him that he risked getting locked up for contempt:

“[52] Before concluding this judgment, I consider it appropriate to record a warning to Mr Biggs that if other cases come before the Court involving requests for sanctions for not complying with Authority or Court orders he faces a serious risk of a custodial sentence.”

The deadline for payment expired yesterday, so we asked Joshua Pietras, the lawyer representing Mr Ugone what happened, and he informed that the judgement has been satisfied, ie: Mr Biggs has now paid what the Employment Court ordered.

We don’t really care if a story tanks, but we’re glad to see a positive development in this matter and we’re sure that Mr Ugone would have preferred to have been paid what he was owed, even in instalments, over having to go through a lengthy enforcement process. 

Like the writer, Mr Biggs is a sole director and shareholder of a long-established company, and the lack of a business partner can cause bad habits to develop as we see here.  We hope that Mr Biggs’ experiences with the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court in recent years have motivated him to put a business succession plan in place.

Tristam Price, Leighton Associates

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