Rescom Asia Pacific Pty Ltd v Reapfield Property Consultants Pty Ltd  VSCA 92 & Foxhat Employment Service Pty Ltd v Deputy Commissioner of Taxation  VSC 218: application to set aside statutory demands
July 6, 2014
In Rescom Asia Pacific Pty Ltd v Reapfield Property Consultants Pty Ltd and Foxhat Employment Service Pty Ltd v Deputy Commissioner of Taxation the Victorian Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court considered applications to set aside statutory demands in very different circumstances.
Rescom Asia Pacific Pty Ltd v Reapfield Property Consultants Pty Ltd
The applicant sought leave to appeal a decision of Randall AsJ dismissing an application to set aside a statutory demand. The grounds of appeal included a failure to find there was a genuine dispute or offsetting claim .
The statutory demand relates to a claim for commission on the sale of various apartments in Carlton. The vendor retained Rescom as the underwriter for the sale of the apartments. It was a term of the retainer that in the event that the total sale price of the apartments did not reach a pre-determined level, Rescom would pay the difference to the vendor . If the total proceeds exceeded the predetermined level the vendor would pay the excess amount to Rescom. If the total proceeds exceeded a pre-determined level by a certain amount, then the excess would be shared between Rescom and the vendor .
Rescom engaged Reapfield as its sole marketing agent in Singapore on terms which included a 5% commission on the transacted price of all sales within Singapore. The Agreement referred to a price schedule in an Annexure A of the agreement.
There was, and is, a dispute between the parties as to contents of Annexure A to the agreement with there being two schedules, one referring to lower prices than the other. That said Randall AsJ found he did not need to determine which schedule was incorporated into the agreement for the purpose of determining the application. Focusing on the terms of the marketing agreement and on contemporaneous conduct  he found that the agreement did not impose an obligation on Reapfield other than to use all due care, skill and diligence. There were no consequences for failure by Reapfield to achieve a particular price .
Regarding the contemporaneous conduct the Randall AsJ found :
- the vendor accepted offers made by purchasers procured by Reapfield and booking forms that set out the purchase price and were signed on behalf of Rescom [over the caption] “accepted by underwriter”
- email correspondence to the effect that Rescom “appreciated the good job” and that Rescom was in the “midst of arranging payment as promised”.
- text messages passing between Rescom and Reapfield accepting the invoice for the commissions claimed without complaint and advising that payment would be made when Rescom received draw downs “from equity partners.”
- there were over 20 text messages where Reapfield sought payment and Rescom repeatedly promised to make payment.
- No complaint was made about the invoice that set out the prices obtained for each of the apartments or the liability to pay the commission .
The Court referred to and liberally quoted from the latest Court of Appeal authority on statutory demands, Troutfarms Australia Pty Ltd v Perpetual Nominees Ltd, handed down last year . The key principles can be reduced to the following:
- ‘a genuine dispute’ uses ordinary English words and its meaning Read the rest of this entry »