Christchurch Cathedral litigation concludes

A New Zealand High Court judge has ruled that while the use of insurance proceeds to build a temporary cathedral was improper, the Diocese of Christchurch had not engaged in unlawful behavior. On 5 Aug 2015 Justice Rachel Dunningham ruled that the Church Property Trustees (CPT) should reimburse the fund holding the proceeds from the insurance payout from the destruction of the cathedral during 2011 earthquake, but was not liable for any penalty or censure. The CPT had used NZ$4 million of the funds to build a temporary structure after the historic church in Latimore Square was condemned as unsafe. However a historic preservation group, the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust, filed suit saying all of the NZ$39 million in insurance proceeds should be used to rebuild the cathedral, and not be diverted to other uses. Following a 2012 interim ruling the CPT reimbursed the fund for monies used to build a temporary structure. Last week’s court ruling held the CPT’s reimbursement was sufficient and was not liable for any other penalty or expense. The court further held the CPT was not at fault for under insuring the cathedral because it could not be liable for the sharp rise in construction costs after the policy was signed. Plans for a new cathedral have been hotly debated within the diocese and across New Zealand over the past four years. A final decision on the new cathedral is expected later this year a diocesan spokesman said.

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