Caroline Elizabeth Holt, Solicitor
Late in 2007, someone who we will call Mr XXX, approached the legal firm Caldwell Martin Cox to get their advice as to whether he had a case to get his neighbours to pay for the upgrading of a retaining wall on his property.
The matter ended up being handled by a Ms Caroline Elizabeth Holt who calls herself a "Senior Associate Solicitor" of the firm.
Of course, we don’t exactly know what happened next - there are a number of possibilities.
Perhaps Mr XXX was very knowledgeable and cunning and “fed” Ms Cox a number of false “facts” to make her think he had a case, and Ms Cox was so dumb and naive that she believed him.
Or perhaps Mr XXX was the dumb and naive one, and Ms Cox gave him the advice that he had a case, just so she could get some fees out of him.
Or perhaps the two of them conspired together thinking, “We’ll write these neighbours a series of such threatening letters that perhaps they will pay up”.
Or perhaps Ms Holt didn't’t have time to give the matter proper consideration and thought she would just try and scare the neighbours “out of their wits” and see what happened.
As we stress, we don't know.
But whatever, the upshot was that, on 3rd December 2007, Ms Holt wrote Mr XXX’s neighbours a letter.
It is an astonishing and amazingly silly letter.
Ms Holt obviously had some vague feeling that the Dividing Fences Act might give her some cause of action, (or at least pretended she did,) and so headed her letter, “DIVIDING FENCE RECTIFICATION”. But the problem about this was that the so called retaining wall that Mr XXX thought needed fixing wasn’t part of the dividing fence. (The irony of this is that photos that Mr XXX had taken and which were enclosed in the letter showed that the “retaining wall” was not part of the “dividing fence”.)
But this didn’t stop Ms Holt. So, in the first part of her letter, she wrote as though the “retaining wall” in question was part of the “dividing fence”, and as though the neighbours, because it was part of the dividing fence had some obligation to fix it up. As we say, the problem was that it wasn't part of the dividing fence.
She obviously also had some vague feeling that if the “retaining wall” was on Mr XXX’s neighbours’ property and therefore their retaining wall, they would have to fix it. But the problem about this was that it wasn’t . It was on Mr XXX’s property and was therefore Mr XXX’s retaining wall - had nothing to do with the neighbour's property. And the photos enclosed in the letter also showed this to be so.
But this didn’t stop the redoubtable Ms Holt. She wrote, “It is your legal responsibility to ensure that your retaining wall remains on your property”. But it wasn't on their property!
In relation to her feeling that there might be a claim under the Dividing Fences Act, the Dividing Fences Act, of course, provides that a property owner can claim half the cost of a reasonable dividing fence or of reasonable repairs to a dividing fence. But in relation to this, three things need to be said.
Firstly, the first step in making a claim under the Dividing Fences Act is to send a quite formal notice. At no stage did Ms Holt even pretend that she was sending such a notice.
Secondly, it didn't seem to occur to her that more than eight and a half thousand dollars was a lot of money to put a dividing fence into good repair, when a perfectly acceptable Colourbond Fence was already in place, as the photographs sent with the letter showed.
Thirdly, even if the notice required under the act had been sent, and even if it was likely that a court would think that more than eight and a half thousand dollars was a reasonable cost for necessary repairs to the dividing fence, the most that Mr XXX could claim would be half of the eight and a half thousand dollars. In what we think is a quite deliberate misrepresentation of the law, (what do our visitors think?) Ms Holt failed to mention this in any way.
Ms Holt sent another letter on 20 December 2007, which is of no particular significance.
Then, because her letters had been ignored by Mr XXX's neighbours as just being silly, she sent a further letter on 24 January, obviously trying to "scare the wits" out of it's recipients. Here's this letter - we have left out only the bits that would identify the parties and properties involved.
In response to this letter, your webmaster sent Ms Holt an email pointing out certain things about the facts in the case on Thursday, 31 January 2008.
We always think that people refuse to acknowledge their receipt of important emails - after all it only takes 5 seconds - because (1) they lack courtesy, or, (2) they are lazy, or, (3) they don't know how to - which is incredibly unlikely, or, (most likely,) (4) they want to be in the position where they can lie, on oath if need be, and say, "Oh dear! we never got that email. The technology must have let us down."
The neighbours sent Ms Holt their own email setting out further matters about the facts in this case on Wednesday, 20 February 2008. Again despite the specific request in the email for Ms Holt to acknowledge her receipt of this email, she has failed to do so. Unbelievable!
So, in the last 6 weeks and four days, despite us sending a number of emails, we have heard nothing of substance from either Ms Holt or Caldwell Martin Cox, and the neighbours still have the threats of Ms Holt's 24 January letter hanging over their head!
Unbelievable! Unbelievable! Unbelievable!

In her letter of 24 January, 2008, Ms Holt berated it's recipients for not taking advantage of the window of opportunity she had given them to "have this matter resolved by negotiation". In my letter emailed six weeks ago, I set out some facts in the matter and concluded with, "We look forward to receiving your acknowledgement of your receipt of this email - after all, it only takes five seconds - and hearing further from you as we all try to get to the bottom of the issues in this matter". The neighbours concluded their email with, "We would be more than happy for you to explain to us where you or your client might think we are wrong in any of this."

But none of us have heard "Boo!" from Ms Holt.
A classy lady, eh!
16 Mar 2008: One of the possibilities is that Ms Holt had absolutely no basis at all on which to send her letters, but that his didn't stop her writing them - with their curious mix of confusion, ignorance, belligerence and aggression. It's looking that way, as 47 days after her third letter was responded to by email, she hasn't been heard from.
Created: 10 Mar 2008 Updated: 16 Mar 2008