Harry Hindenberg: Breach Of Contract

The latest column from acclaimed Papakura lawyer Harry Hindenberg 

I’m always saddened when people don’t comply with their contractual obligations.

I know how disappointing it can be when someone lets you down after you’ve paid good money for their services, because my clients are always telling me so. “An incompetent disgusting pervert” was how one client described me, though if you ask me her judgement was a little on the harsh side. I may not be a saint, and raiding someone’s trust fund without their knowledge in order to pay for prostitutes may even be a crime (technically, anyway), but there are far worse sins committed by others every day.  “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, is my standard defence whenever I am called before the Law Society to explain myself.

So I can understand the hurt Kim Dotcom must be feeling right now. He paid good money for his politician, but his politician has turned out to be a bit of a let-down.

But what can Mr Dotcom do about his disappointment? Might he have a legal remedy?

As a streetwise lawyer who focuses on results rather than details, I seldom bother with the black-letter law. When a client comes to me with a problem they don’t care that there might be an Act of Parliament that deals with the very situation and provides a clear remedy. No, when my clients come to me what they really want is vengeance, even if they don’t know it yet. I give them that vengeance by making sure their cases are dragged through the court system to the bitter end, and by persuading them not to foolishly settle.

“Don’t be swayed by the weasel-words of the other party’s lawyer” I tell my clients, “and don’t listen to the judge when he says your claim for emotional distress is flimsy and is in any case almost certainly statute-barred. How can he know the pain you are feeling right now after running out of Marmite? I know Sanitarium will cave in soon, I just know it! By the way, here is my latest invoice. Wait, are you okay? You look pale. Shall I get you a glass of water? Let me just add that to the bill under ‘miscellaneous disbursements’. Yes, I know it’s a lot of money, but I’m seriously indebted to my dealer, and if he breaks my legs I’m not going to be able to stand up and give my big closing address. And could you pay the bill now? Right now? Cash would be preferable, because we don’t want to leave a trail for those IRD boys, do we? No, that’s all-right, I can wait a few minutes to see if your chest pains subside, and then we’ll go off to the bank together, although I might just wait outside if you don’t mind. The bank manager wants to talk to me about my overdrawn trust account, and I don’t want to face him until after the 3:20 at Addington.”

But it’s not all about winning, as I tell every client after their case is thrown out of court and they end up facing an astronomical costs claim from the defence.

Anyway, as I was saying, black-letter law does not interest me. If you want a lawyer who has a handle on all the relevant legislation and cases, then be my guest. If you prefer the services of someone who finished high school and didn’t have to purchase his law degree over the internet, then good luck to you I say.

But if you want someone who gets results then you should call me.

Having purchased a good number of public officials over the years, I strongly believe that you should get what you paid for. Mr Dotcom paid a lot of money for his politician, and what does he have to show for it? Not a lot. He should sue Mr Banks for breach of contract, and I will laugh in the face of any lawyer who claims no such contract exists, or that any such contract is illegal and unenforceable.

But if Mr Banks should be reading this, let me make it clear that my earlier offer to represent you still stands. I don’t see any ethical dilemma in representing two parties to the same dispute, although the reason why I don’t see one is because I keep closing my eyes and saying “la la la la la la!” every time someone even mentions the term “conflict of interest”. There will be time to deal with the Law Society and its technicalities another day, and hopefully when that day comes I’ll be in the south of Spain living it up.

So call me, Kim Dotcom. We will make glorious litigation together.