By: Jeremy Johnson
Published: 20/11/2012
Outcome: the Judge ordered a stay of the CPT's decision on the basis that the CPT's decision was "incomplete".  The Judge found that the trust on which the Cathedral is held required a cathedral to exist on the site, rather than a cathedral in a specific design and form.  Importantly, the Judge declined to set the decision aside.   

Implications:  CPT has the power to deconstruct provided it is committed to building a replacement cathedral on the site, however that may look.  The CPT must formally make a decision regarding whether it will commit to rebuild a cathedral on the present site.

Helpful points the Judge found:
  1. The decision was incomplete, not unlawful (paragraph [163]);
  2. The laws governing the Cathedral do not require the CPT to retain or rebuild the Cathedral in a particular form or style (paragraph [112], [133], [181], [184]);
  3. Consequently, the Judge made a formal decision that "while there must be a Cathedral on the site, [the CPT] does not necessarily have to replicate the Cathedral as it stood before the earthquakes occurred."
  4. The CPT was facing a difficult decision in a difficult timeframe ([158]).
Quotes from decision

[112] The trust remained a trust for the erection of “a Cathedral”. No term requiring a particular style, for example Gothic, was imposed on the trustee.

[126] the CPT has a discretion whether to choose the repair or maintenance of the Cathedral in preference to the other purposes listed in the section.

[133] [the 2003 Act does] not reflect a legislative intention that the Cathedral as it stood before the earthquakes must be preserved indefinitely; nor does it authorise deconstruction of the Cathedral other than for the purpose of repair or rebuilding.

[158] Everyone agrees that the decision facing the CPT was difficult: the timeframe was tight (this is not a criticism of CERA); complex engineering and other issues needed to be assessed; there were many competing considerations; and whatever option was chosen, a large shortfall in the funds required to complete the project seemed to be inevitable.

[163] The decision is incomplete, not unlawful. 

[180] The fact that I have not set aside the decision at this stage is not intended to suggest that the CPT should necessarily, as part of its overall decision to rebuild, arrive at the same decision as it reached on 1 March 2012. As I have already said, the merits are for the CPT, not the Court.

[181] Given that one of the central issues in this case has revolved around whether the replacement structure has to replicate the Cathedral as it stood before the earthquakes, it is appropriate for a declaration to be made in that regard. The declaration is that while there must be a Cathedral on the site, it does not necessarily have to replicate the Cathedral as it stood before the earthquakes occurred.

Unhelpful points the Judge found:
  1. The possibility that insurance funds may not be applied to the trust (paragraph [173]);
  2. The need for the insurance monies to be applied to the "site-specific" purpose of the Cathedral trust (paragraph [173]).
Next Steps

The Judge has ordered that the CPT complete its decision by determining whether it will commit to a rebuild of a cathedral on the present site.  Until that decision is made, the CPT's decision made on 1 March 2012 has been stayed.

The proceeding has been adjourned until counsel have filed memoranda as to an appropriate timeframe within which the CPT should reconsider the matter.
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