A NEW ZEALAND High Court judge has let Kim Dotcom off the hook - at least for now - by ruling that the legal order used to seize the Megaupload founder's assets was unlawful.
The ruling stating that the asset seizure was "null and void" means that the millions of pounds worth of property and goods taken away from Dotcom by Kiwi police might have to be returned. The judge decided in favour of the millionaire because police had applied for the incorrect court order when seeking authority to take his property.
This order was used by the authorities in New Zealand to seize goods and property worth millions of pounds, including Dotcom's mansion, cash and cars, as we reported last month.
Dotcom's pregnant wife and three children have lived in this property since Dotcom was arrested
However, last Friday, Justice Judith Potter in the New Zealand High Court put the cat among the legal pigeons by ruling that this order was invalid as the authorities had acted under an order that should not have been granted in the first place.
Police commissioner Peter Marshall and the Government's legal adviser, the Crown Law Office admitted making a "procedural error" when applying for the order to seize Dotcom's property.
Local media reports quote Potter as saying the police application for the order had confused legal moves by opting for one in which Dotcom was not given a chance to mount a defence. Effectively this meant that the Kiwi coppers applied for an "incorrect order".
Potter told the New Zealand Herald that the police had sought to correct the mistake after the raid by applying for the proper order, retrospectively listing assets already seized. But the new order was only granted on a temporary basis. According to the report, on 30 January prosecution lawyer Anne Toohey wrote to the court admitting that the incorrect order had been applied for and went on to list additional procedural errors with the application.
Crown Law is arguing that as this new order was granted the earlier error is not now relevant. Dotcom's lawyers view the matter differently, insisting that the asset seizure was "unlawful".
Potter has yet to rule on whether the procedural error will result in Dotcom getting his property returned. µ