Re Lifestyle Residences Hobsons Bay Pty Ltd (recs & mgrs apptd) [2023] VSC 179 (6 April 2023): statutory demand, service under section 109X(1)(a), service outside the statutory period, whether director can make application on behalf of company when receivers appointed

April 23, 2023

The Victorian Supreme Court in Re Lifestyle Residences Hobsons Bay Pty Ltd (recs & mgrs apptd) [2023] VSC 179 considered a range of issues; whether a director can bring an application when receivers appointed, the operation of section 109X(1)(a) of the Act and the calculation of service. it makes it clear that there is an immutability of filing an application out of time making the application is a nullity.

FACTS

The facts relating to service were:

  • on 22 November 2022, Ms Celia Luki, the solicitor with carriage of the matter for the defendant, ascertained the registered office address of the Company from an Australian Securities and Investments Commission (‘ASIC’) company search [35].
  • Luki requested the Office Services Clerk in her firm in Redfern, New South Wales, to organise for the documents to be couriered to Melbourne for delivery to the registered office address.
  • a Client Services Assistant at McCullough Robertson received Luki’s instructions on the service of the statutory demand in the sum of $213,166.89 in an email forwarded to her by the Office Services Clerk, who also provided the statutory demand and accompanying affidavit.
  • the assistant logged into the Toll Priority (Aus) system and inputted those details, recording Luki’s email address as the contact person to receive email updates on the progress of the delivery of the demand. She printed a label from the Toll system, which included all of the recipient’s details which she affixed the label onto a Toll Express Services priority satchel and obtained a tracking number and manifest document.
  • in the afternoon of 22 November 2022, a courier from Toll attended the McCullough Robertson office and collected the sealed envelope and two copies of the manifest document [35]
  • on 16 December 2022 the tracking log records the documents were delivered to the company at the registered office address on 23 November 2022 at 9:46am. The proof of delivery document clearly records the registered office at which delivery occurred and the signature of Paula accepting delivery of the envelope [36]. Paula was a receptionist an accounting firm engaged by the company, whose business address is the registered office address of the company.
  • Paula was unsure who to forward the demand to and sought confirmation from her principal, Mr Sam Cimino. However, because Cimino was extremely busy that day, she was only able to email him and unable to speak to him in person [37].
  • on 24 November 2022, Paula had a discussion with Cimino, who instructed her to immediately send the statutory demand to Mr Burgess, Mr Dale Harrison and Mr Peter Van De Steeg, who are nominated contact people at the company. 
  • Paula emailed the nominated people at the company, attaching an electronic copy of the statutory demand but erroneously stated the demand had arrived by courier at the registered office address on 24 November 2022 when, in fact, it was delivered by courier the day prior [38]. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Re J Build Developments Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 434 (4 August 2022): s 459G Corporations Act, whether genuine dispute is also a payment claim under Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act,

November 20, 2022

In Re J Build Developments Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 434 Hetyey AsJ set aside a statutory demand on the basis that there was a genuine dispute in the context of a notice being issued under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002.

FACTS

The facts in applications to set aside statutory demand relating to construction contracts and building works invariably have complicated and involved factual issues.  This case is no exception.

On 26 June 2020, J Build entered into a $2.9 million building contract with Abboud Corporates Pty Ltd to construct three double-storey residential dwellings at 10 Glyndon Road, Camberwell, Victoria (‘the head contract’ and ‘the property’, respectively) [2].

AES is a mechanical and electrical services provider specialising in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and associated electrical work [2].

On or about 24 February 2020, Jamiel Daou (“Daou”),  a director of J Build, texted Wright, the sole director of AES, asking for  a quotation  for the supply and installation of ducted heating and cooling air-conditioning systems in each of the units at the property (‘the sub-contracting works’).  There was a subsquent telephone conversation between the two the contents of which are in contention.

On 5 March 2020, AES provided JB Build with a quotatio of $88,002.64 inclusive of GST.

Prior to 22 October 2020, JB Build requested that revisions be made to the quotation. On 22 October 2020, AES issued a second quotation for $101,507.09 (inclusive of GST) [6].

On or around 27 October 2020, the parties discussed a further variation which would provide a cost saving to the plaintiff of between $5,000 and $6,000 and reduce the contract price contained in the second quotation [7]. On 28 October 2020, Wright emailed Daou requested confirmation of the revised second quotation with Daou responding via email  with the word ‘[a]pproved’ [8].

On 31 October 2021, AES issued an invoice for $16,874.55 (inclusive of GST) regarding work performed between 28 October 2020 and 31 October 2020,  payable by 14 November 2020 but paid on 7 December 2020 [10].

Wright and Daou  had a site meeting at the property on or around 5 February 2021 where they discussed the need for further variations to AES’ scope of work [11]. AES issued J Build with a further revised quotation on 14 May 2021, documenting additional proposed revisions to the scope of work and increasing the contract price to $109,047.31 (inclusive of GST) (‘the third quotation’). A signed acceptance of the third quotation was returned to AES via email later that day [12].  AES rendered an invoice in the sum of $81,504.61 (inclusive of GST) (‘the second invoice’)  to J Build by email on 14 On 31 May 2021. AES required payment by 30 June 2021. J Build didn’t pay by this date and in or around July 2021, AES stopped work [13]. J Build paid AES $41,504.61 on 22 July 2021 and $5,000 on 20 September 2021 [15], leaving $35,000 owing in respect of the second invoice.

On 4 October 2021, AES served a notice under s 18(2) of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002 (Vic) (‘the SOP Act’) on J Build,   J Build responded the next day by sending AES a payment schedule informing AES that it proposed paying nil in respect of the second invoice on the basis that works had not been completed. No adjudication application was ultimately pursued by AES [16].

On 14 October 2021 AES instructed its solicitors to issue and serve the statutory demand claiming the  $35,000 as ‘monies due and owing pursuant to [AES’] tax invoice no 6394 dated 31 May 2021,’ which refers to the second invoice. The statutory demand did not annex a copy of the second invoice [17].

J Build commenced this application  on 3 November 2021 [18].

The defendant contended that:

  • the second invoice referred to in the statutory demand constitutes a ‘payment claim’ within the meaning of s 14 of the SOP Act which was not effectively challenged by way of a ‘payment schedule’ served within time and is therefore due and payable by force of statute and beyond challenge.
  • J Build was precluded from contending the existence of any genuine dispute about the subject of the statutory demand in this proceeding.

DECISION

The court, at [21],defined the issues for determination as:

(a) is there a genuine dispute under s 459H(1)(a) of the Act that the defendant’s invoice the subject of the demand (ie the second invoice) is a ‘payment claim’ which satisfies the requirements of s 14 of the SOP Act? In particular, is there a genuine dispute whether: Read the rest of this entry »

Agustin-Bunch v Smith (No 2) [2022] VSC 290 (6 June 2022): Defamation, pleadings, defences of truth, contextual truth and honest opinion. Practice and pleading.

June 12, 2022

Justice John Dixon has provided a very valuable judgment in Agustin-Bunch v Smith (No 2) [2022] VSC 290 providing a very useful and detailed analysis of how to plead, and more particualrly how not to plead defences.  It ended up being a bad day at the office for the defendants.

FACTS

The plaintiffs by writ seeks:

  • damages,
  • a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from publishing certain material, and
  • a mandatory injunction for the removal of certain publications from the internet that they allege are defamatory [1].

The second plaintiff seeks damages pursuant to s 236 of the Australian Consumer Law (‘ACL’), contending that the defendants had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in contravention of s 18 of the ACL [1].

On 12 April 2021,  the court refused the plaintiffs’ application for an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from publishing or causing to be published in any form, or maintaining online for download, or uploading so as to make available for publication online:

(a) 15 specific videos;
(b) hyperlinks to a Facebook group described by the plaintiffs as the ‘Dr Farrah Hate Page’;
(c) certain Facebook and Instagram posts;
(d) the imputations and representations set out in nominated paragraphs of the plaintiffs’ statement of claim; and
(e) any matter of and concerning the plaintiffs to the same purport or effect as any of the publications referred to.

The relevant publications alleged to convey defamatory imputations are videos [6] where Dr Smith speaks partly in Tagalog and partly in English to a Filipino audience [7].

The defendants pleaded the defences of:

  • truth,
  • contextual truth,
  • honest opinion, and
  • qualified privilege both at common law and relying on the relevant statutory provisions [8]

The plaintiffs allege about 70 imputations and the defendants plead a truth defence to approximately 60 imputations [10].The defences have been Read the rest of this entry »

Re Australian Builders Group Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 254 (20 May 2022): statutory demand, s 459G, application to set aside, genuine dispute about existence and/or amount of debt & whether due and payable because condition precedent in deed not met,validity of notice, principles of economic duress

May 23, 2022

In Re Australian Builders Group Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 254 the Supreme Court, per Hetyey AsJ, set aside a statutory demand based on a genuine dispute based on the construction of an agreement and default notice but also by a claim of duress.

FACTS

On or around 1 June 2017 Mind, a not-for-profit organisation providing community-managed specialist mental health services entered into an agreement with Australian Win Win Investment Pty Ltd (‘the landlord’) to lease a property located at 691 High Street, Thornbury, Victoria (‘the property’ and ‘the lease’ respectively) for an amount of $130,000 per annum (approximately $10,833.33 per calendar month) [1].

In early May 2018, Mind and ABG entered into a sublease agreement for the property (‘the sublease’). The parties to the sublease agreed that ABG would pay a reduced amount of rent of $121,000 per annum (approximately $10,083.33 per calendar month) [2].

From February 2019, ABG began to fall into arrears & by 15 April 2021, it owed Mind approximately eight months’ rent, totalling $82,279.92 (‘the arrears’). Pursuant to a repayment deed, ABG agreed to make regular payments of the arrears of $2,500 plus GST, together with interest, per week.

Regarding the repayment Read the rest of this entry »

A & J Morphett Nominees Pty Ltd v JBT Lawyers Pty Ltd & Anor [2022] VSC 238 (17 May 2022): role of Stakeholder, where deposit held by solicitor as stakeholder on behalf of both parties to sale transaction & failed to refund deposit to purchaser who validly terminated the contract.

May 22, 2022

In A & J Morphett Nominees Pty Ltd v JBT Lawyers Pty Ltd & Anor [2022] VSC 238 Justice Dixon in upholding an appeal made important statements for practitioners on the role of stakeholders.

FACTS

On 26 November 2018 the appellant and Chloe Estelle Pty Ltd entered into the contract with the appellant paying the deposit of $42,000 to the respondent on 6 December 2018 [4].

On 21 March 2019, the appellant by written notice terminated the contract and requested that the respondent repay the deposit to it [4].

The appellant, A & J Morphett Nominees Pty Ltd, commenced proceedings against Chloe Estelle Pty Ltd, as first defendant, and the respondent, JBT Lawyers Pty Ltd, as second defendant in the Magistrates Court.  In its defence the respondent admitted that it received the deposit sum as a stakeholder as alleged by the appellant [6].

On 24 June 2019, the appellant entered default judgment in the proceeding against Chloe Estelle Pty Ltd, which included an amount for interest and costs [7]. The appellant did not recover against Chloe Estelle Pty Ltd as it was and on 18 July 2019, an administrator was appointed and it was subsequently ordered to be wound up. The liquidators made no claim for the deposit.

It was never been in dispute that the respondent received that sum as a stakeholder for the appellant and Chloe Estelle Pty Ltd [3].

On 29 March 2019, the Federal Circuit Court, per Small J,made an order in a Family Law dispute between different parties.  It relevantly Read the rest of this entry »

Re Slodyczka & Farren Pty Ltd (Costs) [2022] VSC 102 (4 March 2022): application for costs by the defendant; where presumption of insolvency rebutted, multiple defences relied upon

March 9, 2022

The postscript to Re Slodyczka & Farren Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 102 is a decision by Associate Justice Hetyey regarding costs of the application. 

FACTS

in the substantive judgment  the plaintiff’s application to wind up the defendant in insolvency was dismissed.

The relevant facts for the purpose of considering a costs order were:

  • whilst the matter was commenced by originating process filed on 11 April 2021, there were delays and adjournments [2] resulted in two previous costs orders being made being:
    • on 7 July 2021, consent orders were made which, among other things, required the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s costs thrown away by reason of an adjournment of the hearing originally scheduled that day (‘the first costs order’).
    • at the next hearing date, on 27 July 2021, it was adjourned at the request of the defendant to enable it to put on supplementary material on the question of solvency, including audited accounts for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 financial years. The plaintiff’s costs of the hearing be reserved (‘the second costs order’).

The defendant opposed the winding up application on the following alternative bases [4]:

(a) service of the plaintiff’s statutory demand dated 3 February 2021 (‘the statutory demand or the demand’) was defective;

(b) the defendant was solvent and could displace the statutory presumption of insolvency;

(c) the defendant should be given leave pursuant to s 459S of the Corporations Act2001 (Cth) (‘theCorporations Act’) to oppose the winding up application on a ground or grounds it could have relied on for the purpose of an application to set the demand aside. The grounds sought to be raised were: (i) there was a genuine dispute about the amount of the debt claimed in the statutory demand in accordance with s 459H(1)(a); (ii) the defendant had an offsetting claim for the purpose of s 459H(1)(b) of the Corporations Act; and (iii) the demand was defective and a substantial injustice would be caused to the defendant if the demand was not set aside pursuant to s 459J(1)(a) of the Corporations Act; and

(d) pursuant to s 467(1)(a) of the Corporations Act, the Court should dismiss the plaintiff’s application as a matter of discretion.

In the substantive judgment the court held that, [5]:

  • the defendant failed to rebut the presumption of service of the statutory demand under s 29(1) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth).
  • the defendant succeeded in displacing the statutory presumption of insolvency on the basis that it was cash flow positive and balance sheet solvent. The proceeding was dismissed on this basis.
  • the defendant’s application under s 459S of the Corporations Act was not granted because the grounds sought to be raised in respect of the plaintiff’s debt were not material to proving solvency however  had the defendant failed to establish solvency the corut would haveultimately have granted it leave
  • the defendant could not to pursue its argument that the Court should dismiss the plaintiff’s application in accordance with the Court’s discretion under s 467(1)(a) of the Corporations Act because of a lack of proper notice to the plaintiff Read the rest of this entry »

Statutory demands. update Re Amville Constructions Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 65 (17 February 2022), Re Slodyczka & Farren Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 19 (1 February 2022) & Re Wynyard Victoria Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 81 (24 February 2022); insolvency, service, setting aside statutory demands, ss 459A, 459C, 459G, 459H, 459J, 459P, 459S of Corporations Act.

March 6, 2022

Associate Justice Heytey has had a busy start to the year with 2 decisions regarding applications under the Corporations Act 2001; Re Slodyczka & Farren Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 19 and Re Amville Constructions Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 65.  Associate Justice Gardiner considered an application to set aside a statutory demand in Re Wynyard Victoria Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 81.

Re Slodyczka & Farren Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 19

The key issue in this application was whether there was proper service of a statutory demand and whether the presumption of insolvency was rebutted. 

FACTS

Slodyczka & Farren Pty Ltd (‘the defendant’) was first registered on 14 December 2015. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it commenced a business in March 2020 for the manufacture and sale of face masks.  Between April 2020 and August 2020, Lion & Horn Pty Ltd (‘the plaintiff’) providing it with marketing services to sell of its masks [1].

In early February 2021, the plaintiff purportedly served the defendant with a statutory demand dated 3 February 2021, which claimed the sum of $36,091.77 in relation to an outstanding invoice dated 28 August 2020 for its marketing services . The defendant did not comply with the demand within the 21-day statutory period.

By originating process filed on 11 April 2021, the plaintiff sought to wind up of the defendant pursuant to ss 459A and 459P of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) relying upon the statutory presumption of insolvency contained within s 459C(2)(a) of the Corporations Act.

The Court framed the questions for consideration as being, at [9]:

(a) was service of the statutory demand effective?

(b) is the defendant solvent?

(c) should the Court grant the defendant leave pursuant to s 459S(2) of the Corporations Act to oppose the winding up application on one or more grounds that the defendant could have relied upon in seeking to set aside the demand, but did not so rely? Further, is such a ground material to proving the Company is solvent?; and

(d) should the Court dismiss the plaintiff’s application under s 467(1)(a) of the Corporations Act as a matter of discretion?

DECISION

Service

In reviewing the legislation and legal principles the court Read the rest of this entry »

Omar Property Pty Ltd & Others v Amcor Flexibles (Port Melbourne) Pty Ltd [2019] VSC 446 (3 July 2019); discovery, content of pleadings and redactions

July 22, 2019

In Omar Property Pty Ltd & Others v Amcor Flexibles (Port Melbourne) Pty Ltd [2019] VSC 446 the Supreme Court, per Mukhtar AsJ considered the principles of ambit of discovery and the use of redactions in a hard fought discovery application.

FACTS

The five-day trial dated was vacated because of three intervening discovery fights [1].

This decision related to the first fight.

The proceeding is a dispute over a commercial lease of industrial premises. The question is whether the defendant has validly exercised an option to renew its lease or is entitled to renew the lease. The plaintiff says Read the rest of this entry »

A’la Carte Homes Pty Ltd v AAPD CO P/L [2019] VSC 108 (5 March 2019): application to set aside, section 459J Corporations Act

March 13, 2019

In A’la Carte Homes Pty Ltd v AAPD CO P/L [2019] VSC 108 the Supreme Court, per Randall AsJ, set aside a statutory demand. The key issue was the failure of the assignment of a debt being described in the statutory demand or accompanying affidavit.

FACTS

The application was made under ss 459G, 459H and 459J of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). The orders sought were Read the rest of this entry »

Yang v Finder Earth Pty Ltd [2019] VSCA 22 (15 February 2019): application to set aside default judgment, importance of pleading

March 4, 2019

The Victorian Court of Appeal in Yang v Finder Earth Pty Ltd [2019] VSCA 22 again highlighted the caution the courts are now taking in dealing with applications which determine a claim without trial such as summary judgment applications and default judgment applications. It is also a case which highlights the fact that pleadings matter. 

FACTS

Luo and Yang entered into the principal agreement, in October 2015 (the ‘agreement’) [8] for the stated purpose of:

to successfully obtain the 888 visa for Luo and her family to migrate to Australia and to be granted the Permanent Resident Visa (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Immigration Project’).

The agreement:

  • was described as a partnership between Luo and Yang

Read the rest of this entry »

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