Mystery illness strikes ‘Judge’ Paul Barber

THE ‘FORMER’ district court judge who chairs the Crown agency established six years ago to raise confidence in the real estate industry supposedly has a mystery illness which causes symptoms usually associated with winos.

The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal has gone into damage control mode following Paul Barber’s extraordinary outburst in a media interview two months ago where it appeared he was heavily intoxicated.

The phone call followed allegations Barber had obtained the chairman’s position by deceit because he was not a barrister or solicitor at the time of his appointment – a requirement under legislation governing the Tribunal.

In that call, Barber was also confronted about why he continually referred to himself as a district court judge when he no longer had a legal right to do so.

In a follow-up phone call several weeks later seeking further answers about his irrational conduct and failure to respond to written media questions, the 78-year-old again appeared inebriated. He had slurred speech and could barely pronounce the word ‘registrar’.   Read more »

Sober as a ‘Judge’


PAUL BARBER likes to call himself a judge.

But judge the ‘judge’ or dare call his conduct into question and Barber runs a mile.

We know because we phoned the 78-year-old the other night to confront him for a third time – yes, a third time – about what right he had to call himself a judge.

Judge or no judge, we believe we’ve got a right to ask him that question.

And we say Barber has a legal and moral obligation to answer it.

But that’s the thing with questions. No one much likes them unless they have all the answers.

In this instance, Paul Barber doesn’t have the answers.

That, we’re sure of. We’ve given Barber ample opportunity to explain himself and each time he’s come up short.   Read more »


The questions we asked ‘Judge’ Paul Barber

THE MINISTRY of Justice is sticking to its guns over the legal standing of retired district court judge Paul Barber and his right to chair three Government-appointed judicial bodies.

The 78-year-old is already facing allegations he obtained the top job with the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal “by deceit” because he was not a barrister or solicitor at the time of his appointment – a requirement under legislation governing the Tribunal.

He’s also been accused of masquerading as a district court judge when he is not one.

Now there are questions over Barber and his chairmanship of the Taxation Review Authority.

Like the Tribunal, the chair of the Authority must either be a judge or a barrister or solicitor with at least seven years experience.

Since Barber’s warrant expired in March 2012, he has ruled on nearly two-dozen cases before the Taxation Review Authority involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. His last case was only last month and like every other decision on record since 2012, Barber is referred to as ‘Judge P F Barber’.

Ministry spokesman Matt Torbit said Barber was admitted to the Bar following his graduation in 1963. He was enrolled as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court and had more than seven years’ legal experience, he said.

It was not a requirement of the Taxation Review Authorities Act 1994 for a judicial office of the Authority to hold a practising certificate.

However, Auckland University law professor Bill Hodge said his understanding of the law was that the reference to “a barrister and solicitor of 7 years standing” meant current standing.

A barrister was defined under section six of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 as a person “enrolled as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court… and practicing as a barrister,” he said.    Read more »

The Barber Issue and why the law is important

Paul Barber was appointed four years ago to head the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal in a move supposedly heralding a new environment of accountability for the industry.

However, there’s now conflicting opinion about whether the 78-year-old has any legal standing as chairman. Today we examine the issues.

IT WAS once said when it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.

And so events of the past week have proven.

When the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal was established seven years ago it was supposed to usher in a new level of accountability for an industry plagued by bad publicity, ill will and stories of greedy agents, guided more by self-interest than the best interests of their clients.

'Judge' Paul Barber

‘Judge’ Paul Barber

But accountability is a two way street.

It generally starts at the top with leaders who inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility.

Not so in the case of ‘Judge’ Paul Barber, the man handpicked by the Government as the last line of defence against rogue real estate agents.

In the past week there’s been nothing resembling the word accountability from the man who’s spent four years masquerading as a district court judge.

Over that time Barber has signed off the Tribunal’s annual reports to the Government as ‘Judge Barber’ and at Tribunal hearings, he always introduces himself as Judge Barber.

On the Tribunal website he’s down as “Judge Barber’, on Tribunal decisions he signs off as ‘Judge PF Barber’ – his White Pages listing even says ‘Judge Barber’.

Barber used to be a district court judge. He no longer is – and hasn’t been since 2011.

There’s an important distinction to be drawn there.    Read more »

Paul Barber: Caught in a lie

PRESSURE is mounting on the chairman of the Crown agency established seven years ago to raise public confidence in the real estate industry to resign after more evidence emerged yesterday exposing him as a liar and a fraud.

For the past four years retired district court judge Paul Barber has been in charge of the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, the independent body responsible for determining disciplinary charges against real estate agents.

Public dissatisfaction with agents was one of the driving forces behind major industry reforms introduced in 2008, which made it mandatory for agents to legally comply with prescribed rules relating to their conduct and the way they care for clients.

The conduct and client-care rules are backed by a multi-level complaints system administered by the tribunal – with Barber, who claims to be 78-years-old, at the helm.

But there are now serious questions over Barber’s conduct – and whether he has any legal standing as chairman.

Complicating matters is the fact that during his four-year tenure Barber has deliberately misled the public with claims he is a District Court Judge when he’s not one.

Yesterday Whaleoil obtained a recording from a Tribunal hearing back in 2014 where Barber clearly introduces himself as “Judge Barber”.

   Read more »

READT Chair appointment ‘unlawful’, hundreds of cases at risk


THE CHAIRMAN of the Crown agency that deals with rogue real estate agents is facing the axe after revelations his appointment four years ago was unlawful.

In 2011 the Government handpicked former district court judge Paul Barber to head the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal in a move supposedly heralding a new environment of accountability for the industry.

However, Barber’s days could be numbered after confirmation from the New Zealand Law Society yesterday the 78-year-old, who still refers to himself as a judge, did not hold a practising certificate – a requirement under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 to fulfil the role of chairman.    Read more »

The ‘Judge’ who isn’t actually a Judge


THE MAN handpicked by the Government to deal with rogue real estate agents has been masquerading as a judge.

In 2011 Associate Justice Minister Nathan Guy appointed Paul Barber chairperson of the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal.

The Tribunal was established under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008, and deals with the licensing and discipline of real estate agents.

Barber is a former district court judge who claims to be 78-years-old.

In 2009 Attorney General Chris Finlayson appointed Barber as an acting district court judge to help reduce caseloads in the civil and criminal courts.

He would have been 72 at the time – two years older than the mandatory retirement age for judges in New Zealand.    Read more »

Does the Privacy Commission need to be refocused?

In my own dealing with the Privacy Commission, directly and indirectly, I’ve found it hard to find any “common sense” consistency to their activities.

When 6 years of my emails were taken from me illegally, I tried to encourage the Commission to use its powers to protect the other parties to my communications.   Some of you even wrote in directly.  We all know where that got to.  Nowhere at all.

If you can think of a more wide-spread privacy breach in recent times, please tell me, but I think this one was an occasion where the Commission was central to the solution – and they didn’t do anything other than send form letters (emails) to say that the breach itself wasn’t enough – there had to be demonstrable damage before they would consider action.

With this as a head scratching backdrop, I now share this story with you:

A real estate agent caught going through a client’s underwear drawer has complained to the Human Rights Review Tribunal that his privacy has been breached.

I will stop here.  So you can read that again.   Done?   Confused?

Surely the Commission told him to go away, right?

The man was found guilty of a “gross breach of privacy” by going into a client’s bedroom drawer and handling her underwear shortly after an open home in September 2012.

His name and any identifying features, such as the location of the property, are suppressed.

The man lost his job and surrendered his real estate licence shortly after the event. The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) charged him with misconduct.

He pleaded guilty and in March 2013 he told the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal that he had “looked in the drawer more out of curiosity and intrigue than out of malicious intent”, and regretted his actions.

He doesn’t deny it.  Plead guilty and put on a display of contrition. Read more »