Patricia McConnell as been appointed chief adjudicator of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service (WHRS) for a three-year term starting this month.
Ms McConnell is a barrister based in Rotorua. She has an established reputation as an adjudicator and manager of adjudication services through her role as principal tenancy adjudicator with the Tenancy Tribunal.
She also has extensive experience in tribunal, District Court and High Court civil and criminal litigation.
The chief adjudicator is primarily responsible for delivering an efficient WHRS adjudication service, and for providing leadership to the current four adjudicators.
Their key role is to determine the liability of parties and remedies in relation to eligible claims referred to the WHRS for adjudication.
"Ms McConnell has a great deal to offer and brings extensive experience and an in-depth knowledge of dispute resolution issues," Building Issues Minister Clayton Cosgrove says.
"She is well placed to lead the WHRS adjudication process, and I am delighted to have her on board."
Mr Cosgrove says he would also like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the work of Paul Skinner - the first WHRS chief adjudicator - and to thank him for his service to the community.
Under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Amendment Bill currently before Parliament, it is proposed that the chief adjudicator become the chair of a new Weathertight Homes Tribunal.
The Bill proposes new enhanced investigative powers and authority for the Tribunal, including new offence provisions when parties fail to appear when summoned or disobey an order of the Tribunal.
Mr Cosgrove says establishing the new Tribunal is part of the Bill's package of reforms aimed at speeding up the dispute resolution process so owners of leaky homes can get compensation from the liable parties and get their homes fixed faster.
Other key proposals in the Bill include:
more comprehensive assessment reports so people can claim for potential as well as actual weathertightness-related damage,
changing the voting thresholds to make it easier to resolve multi-unit claims,
a new streamlined process for lower value claims, and
requiring territorial authorities to place Weathertight Homes Resolution Service notices on Land Information Memorandum (LIM) reports and time limited mediation.
Mr Cosgrove says he hopes to have the legislation passed before Christmas, and to have the reforms in place for April 1, 2007.