Southland Times

Bankrupt Invercargill psychiatrist says $4200 a fortnight not enough for balanced and normal lifestyle
Last updated 19:07, August 29 2017
A bankrupt psychiatrist couldn’t convince the courts his repayments should be reduced so he had more money for weekly …
A bankrupt psychiatrist couldn’t convince the courts his repayments should be reduced so he had more money for weekly massages and a personal trainer.

A bankrupt Invercargill psychiatrist was unable to convince the courts his fortnightly debt repayments should be reduced so he could maintain a better work-life balance, including personal trainers, weekends in Queenstown hotels and weekly massages.

Abraham Nicolaas van der Walt was declared bankrupt in November 2015, but ordered to make contributions towards the payments of his debts. He made seven irregular repayments worth $30,758.24 until June 14, 2016, when he stopped paying.

On July 19, the Official Assignee applied to the High Court for orders forcing van der Walt to make payments including arrears, which he opposed on the grounds his repayments of $3333.40 a fortnight were excessive.

Court documents show van der Walt, who works for the Southern District Health Board as a psychiatrist, received a net pay of $7549.07 fortnightly, leaving $4215.67 after repayments.

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He did not consider it unreasonable to be allowed some additional disposable income to “try and have a reasonably balanced and normal lifestyle” to compensate for working a stressful fulltime job, court documents show.

Van der Walt has suffered from a heart condition for more than 20 years, which forced him to move to part-time hours in July 2016. His repayments were reduced accordingly.

He returned to fulltime work in February, when his health improved, and his repayments increased.

Van der Walt argued he needed his repayments to be reduced by $1000 a fortnight for health reasons, as his heart condition was affected by stress, and time away from Invercargill was important in maintaining work-life balance.

In his affidavit, van der Walt said his cardiologist had recommended he join a gym, which cost $20 a week, and wanted to get a personal trainer costing $60 a week, court documents show. He said he had regular weekly massages at $80 a session.

He also claimed he had medical costs of $400 a week and board of $800 a week.

Associate Judge Osborne found the amount van der Walt was expected to repay each pay was reasonable, and that he had not convinced the court that a fortnightly allowance of more than $4200 was insufficient to meet reasonable living expenses.

Van der Walt was ordered to start making his fortnightly payments again from August 4, and to pay arrears of $62,329.45 within 10 working days.

Abraham Nicolaas van der Walt