On a hiding to nothing

Sometimes a party to a lawsuit has to recognize they’re holding a losing hand, and put an end to the dispute. Certainly, in my experience, it can take a while for reality to sink in to your opponent’s cranium.

A long dispute means both parties are wrong, said Voltaire, which is a challenge to both sides.

For some egos, they resist it, ignore it, fight it… until…

Banks to pay billions owed

NZPA via Stuff 22:00 23/12/2009

LATEST: Four major banks have settled their long-running disputes with the Inland Revenue Department.

The Commissioner of Inland Revenue, Robert Russell, and the Solicitor-General, David Collins QC, said they are pleased long-running tax disputes have been settled.

The BNZ, Westpac, ASB Bank, and ANZ National have agreed to settle cases with Inland Revenue by accepting liability for a combined sum that exceeds $2.2 billion.

The settlement, believed to be the largest commercial settlement in New Zealand’s history, follows IRD’s success in the High Court this year in two cases involving a particular type of transaction known as “structured finance”. As late as this month Westpac, BNZ and ANZ National said they would take IRD to the Supreme Court in a bid to hang on to about $8 million in unclaimed funds the IRD said belongs to the Crown.

The High Court and Court of Appeal have both found against the banks in hearings over the past three years.

Yeah, OK. The banks could have kept appealing on dragging it out, but IRD had too much to lose to let them off the hook. The stakes were too high. Congrats to the tax man. (We have a recession to pay for, huh?)

That said, let’s acknowledge that although (in the words of Olly Newland) ‘the banks are bastards’, sometimes the ‘deep pockets’ of the IRD can lead to bullyboy and standover tactics, along the lines of: ‘You may win this case but we’ll just keep appealing until you run out of money.’

Still, nice touch for the banks to cave in. Or so it seems. Pretty cynical.