Islamic Republic ambassador ordered to pay workers only after they’ve complained to NZ government.
An Iranian man living in Wellington social housing with his young family has won almost $275,000 in a court case against his former homeland’s embassy for unpaid renovation work.
The painter and his company cannot be named for legal reasons but court documents show he took legal action against the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran for work carried out at its premises in Wellington.
The embassy never fully paid the bills and now, after a court hearing, it is being made to pay up $274,932. The painter’s lawyer, Chris Boys, confirmed the embassy had still not paid the money, which was now overdue.
Ambassador Mohammad Reza Mofatteh was not available for comment at the embassy in Roseneath on Monday but a woman at his Khandallah residence put him on the phone.
“There is diplomatic immunity for a diplomatic place – you cannot take any photos,” he said. He would not discuss the court findings.
Diplomatic immunity, laid down by the Geneva Convention, means overseas diplomats and their families cannot be prosecuted for most laws unless an exemption is granted.
Court documents show the painter carried out work for the embassy in January 2020, then in August the same year.
The bills were only partly paid. The painter took the embassy to court in April but the embassy did not attend.
Judge Kevin Kelly’s ruling pointed out concerns were raised about the embassy pleading diplomatic or consular immunity but, due to an earlier, related Disputes Tribunal application by the embassy – which was dismissed – this had been waived.
“There is no reasonable defence on the facts, or any other reasons why the defendant was not required to perform its contractual obligations,” Judge Kelly’s ruling said.
He ordered that, for the January 2020 work, the embassy pay the painter $56,690 for unpaid invoices, plus $1697 in interest. For the second lot of work, in August 2020, the embassy must pay $144,000 for unpaid “management work”, plus $3272 in interest.
It also had to pay $31,917 for buying building materials, plus $725 in interest, then a further $36,000 for “loss of chance” plus $631 in interest.
The painter, who lives with his young family in Wellington social housing, would not comment when approached on Monday.