Ata Mara Estate Limited v Te Mata Estate Winery Limited [2016] NZDC 11956

Published 31 January 2017

Whether contract had been repudiated — Ross Smythe & Co Limited v Bailey, Son & Co [1940] 3 ALL ER 60 (HL) — Steele v Serepisos [2006] 1 NZLR 1 (SC) — Mt Pleasant Estates Co. Limited v Withell [1996] 3 NZLR 324 at p 330 — Contractual Remedies Act 1979, s 7. An agreement was made between the defendant (Te Mata Estate Winery Limited) and the plaintiff (Te Mara wines (now Ata Mara Estate)) for Te Mara to change their trading name due to its similarity to the defendant's brand name Te Mata. As a part of the agreement the defendant would pay $55,000 to the plaintiff, the first $30,000 to be paid within five working days of the agreement and the remaining amount at an unspecified date. The plaintiff was slow in undertaking some of its obligations under the agreement. As a result of the tardiness of compliance, the defendant alleged that the plaintiff had asserted a repudiation of the contract and this meant that the defendant was entitled to treat the contract as having been repudiated. The Judge determined that the plaintiff had done nothing to indicate an intention to repudiate so the defendant was not entitled to treat the agreement as having been repudiated. However, the plaintiff's demand for payment was not done in the way required by clause 2(i) of the contract and thus their claim failed. The Judge noted that costs would lie where they fell given the respective measure of success by both parties. Judgment Date: 8 July 2016.