Forster questions role of lawyers in finders' tussle

Friday 27 January 2012

Property finder Dorien Forster has broken her silence over her court battle with the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA), questioning the role of lawyers in the transaction that led her to the High Court.

By Benn Bathgate

She said the house purchase in question was guided by three lawyers with 80 years experience between them.

"If there was any transgression into unlawfulness presented by the new law [the Real Estate Agents Act 2008], surely the lawyers should have raised some concern?"

"If three paid lawyers could not see the danger I was in, how could the average citizen be expected to see it? I know of no other criminal getting convicted with the help of three lawyers through the whole process."

However, Forster's concerns over the role of lawyers in the transaction were dismissed by REAA legal counsel Martin Sawyer.

He said any doubt around the quality of legal advice should be directed to the lawyers in question.

"The transaction undertaken was the focus of our inquiries," he said.

"The legislation and judgment are clear. If you are providing work or services, in trade, on behalf of another, to bring about a transaction then you are carrying out real estate agency work.

Forster also criticised the application of the Real Estate Agents Act in a case in which she said it was made clear to all parties that she was not a licensed agent.

"The complaint form stipulates that it is to be used only for agents who have held a license since November 17, 2009," she said.

"Nowhere in this Act does it mention the words property investor, property developer, property manager or property trader, the domain I am in"

Forster said that while she was pleased to have her conviction discharged, "the time involved and the expensive court costs paid for by the taxpayer and me have not got us any nearer to clarity for property traders about this new law."

Comments from our readers

On 17 February 2012 at 10:12 pm Debbie said:
Go the REAA...I'm waiting on a decision from the CAC regarding complaints my husband and I have made against 4 real estate against on Waiheke Island, involving 2 properties & a business with a total RV $2.7million. I'm sure this will hit the media it's the dirties deal. Thank goodness we have this legal process which is available to everyone no matter your financial position. The REAA put investigators onto your case and as far as we can tell are very thorough and have so far been great to deal with at no cost to the complainant.
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