Notice: Cancellation of Mr Paul Harris's Class A Trainer's Licence

Friday 22 February

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At a meeting on 21 February 2013 the Board of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) cancelled Mr Paul Harris’s Class A trainer’s licence.

Rule 303 (f) requires a Class A trainer to be ‘financially sound and of good character.’ At the time of the meeting Mr Harris was an un-discharged bankrupt. Mr Harris may re-apply for a trainer’s licence subject to his bankruptcy being discharged.

On 7 August 2012 the High Court of New Zealand declared Mr Harris bankrupt. NZTR suspended his trainer’s licence on 14 August 2012 and provided him with 21 days to provide reasons why his licence should not be suspended, withdrawn or cancelled. During Mr Harris’s suspension he was issued with a stable hand licence.

The period of 21 days, set down for Mr Harris to provide reasons why his licence should not be suspended, withdrawn or cancelled, was extended at the request of Mr Harris's solicitor, who advised NZTR that Mr Harris was seeking to have his declaration of bankruptcy annulled.

A show cause hearing was set down by NZTR for 26 September 2012. This hearing was deferred at the request of Mr Harris's solicitor, who advised NZTR he was preparing to file an action in the High Court to seek an early discharge of Mr Harris's bankruptcy and that the Official Assignee would not be opposing this.

A show cause hearing was set down by NZTR in December 2012 but was deferred at the request of Mr Harris's solicitor, who advised NZTR that the hearing date at the High Court had been deferred to 29 January 2013 as notices had not been served on all of Mr Harris's creditors within the time required.

A show cause hearing was set down by NZTR for 30 January 2013, with Mr Harris being advised that no further deferments would be granted.

The show cause hearing was conducted at the offices of NZTR in Wellington on 30 January 2013. The show cause panel comprised NZTR Board member Mr Des Friedrich and Racing Integrity Unit Co-chief Steward Mr Ross Neal. Mr Harris attended the hearing and was represented by his solicitor, Mr Philip Shamy, and his advisor, Mr Stephen Bunz.

Included in the information provided to the show cause panel was Associate Judge Matthews’s judgment, which granted Mr Harris a discharge from bankruptcy subject to him meeting specified conditions prior to 5.00pm on 8 February 2013, including payment to creditors of 51 cents in the dollar of their indebtedness. Subsequently the court granted, at the request of Mr Harris’s solicitor, a two-week extension to 5.00 pm on 22 February 2013.

On 21 February 2013, the day of the NZTR board meeting at which the report of the show cause panel was considered, the conditions set down by the court had not been met. Mr Harris remains an un-discharged bankrupt and has remained so for more than six months from the time NZTR suspended his trainer’s licence.

As such, NZTR has determined that Mr Harris does not meet the requirement of Rule 303 (f) which requires a Class A trainer to be ‘financially sound and of good character’ and as consequence NZTR has cancelled his Class A trainer’s licence. Mr Harris retains a stable hand’s licence.

Mr Harris is free to re-apply for a trainer’s licence subject to discharge from bankruptcy. NZTR will consider any application by Mr Harris on its merits at the time of application.