A Christchurch lawyer, John Rutherford and a company of which he is a director, Rural Management Limited, have been fined a total of $20,000 for misleading people about land being sub-divided.

Charges were brought by the Commerce Commission.

Mr Rutherford's company advertised "fully serviced titled sections" at Wainui near Christchurch. However, stage 1 of the sub-division was not fully serviced as there were no arrangements in place for disposal of sewage.

Titles were not available for sections in stage 2 of the sub-division.

Judge Holderness found Mr Rutherford and Rural Management guilty of two charges each under the Fair Trading Act last month. He sentenced them in the Christchurch District Court today.

Commission Deputy Chairman Mr Peter Allport said Mr Rutherford was personally responsible for the false claims made by the company.

"He wrote the ads, and placed them in the newspaper. He was not careless and the false claims were not an accident", Mr Allport said.

"The sections were promoted in the way most likely to sell them and the false claims related to information vital to the promotion - that buyers could build immediately and that they could get titles.

"Mr Rutherford and his company knew that they were misleading people about the sections and they have paid the penalty for that."

Judge Holderness imposed fines of $7,500 on each charge against Rural Management, $2,500 on each charge against Mr Rutherford, $95 court costs on each of the four charges and $68 witness expenses to be paid by the company.

Media contact:Manager Fair Trading, Keith Manch

Phone work (04) 498 0908, home (04) 479 7105

Communications Officer, Vincent Cholewa

Phone work (04) 498 0920, home (04) 479 1432