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Bank of Queensland Ltd v Ross Auto Auctions Pty Ltd (in liq) (Receivers & Managers appointed)

 

[2016] QSC 19

 

SUPREME COURT OF QUEENSLAND

  

CITATION:

Bank of Queensland Ltd & Anor v Ross Auto Auctions Pty Ltd (in liq) (Receivers & Managers appointed) & Anor [2016] QSC 19

PARTIES:

BANK OF QUEENSLAND LIMITED

ABN 32 009 656 740

(first applicant)

BOQ CREDIT PTY LIMITED

ABN 92 080 151 266

(second applicant)

BOQ EQUIPMENT FINANCE LIMITED

ABN 78 008 492 582

(third applicant)

v

ROSS AUTO AUCTIONS PTY LIMITED (IN LIQUIDATION) (RECEIVERS AND MANAGERS APPOINTED)

ACN 159 553 250

(first respondent)

BRENT KIJURINA

(second respondent)

FILE NO/S:

SC No 7420 of 2015

DIVISION:

Trial Division

PROCEEDING:

Originating Application

ORIGINATING COURT:

Supreme Court at Brisbane

DELIVERED ON:

18 February 2016

DELIVERED AT:

Brisbane

HEARING DATE:

Written submissions

JUDGE:

Philip McMurdo JA

ORDERS:

1.The second respondent to pay the applicants’ costs of the proceeding.

2.The second respondent is to pay his own costs of the proceeding.

3.The second respondent is entitled to indemnification from the assets of the first respondent for the payment of the costs in orders 1 and 2.

CATCHWORDS:

PROCEDURE – CIVIL PROCEEDINGS IN STATE AND TERRITORY COURTS – COSTS – GENERAL RULE: COSTS FOLLOW EVENT – GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND EXERCISE OF DISCRETION – where orders made on 7 December 2015 removed the second respondent as liquidator of the first respondent – where the parties were provided an opportunity to make written submissions on costs – where the second respondent argued his liability should be limited to the amount of assets of the company available to indemnify him for that purpose and that he should be entitled to an indemnity for his own costs – whether the second respondent’s liability should be limited – whether second respondent is entitled to an indemnity for his own costs

ASIC v Franklin (2014) 223 FCR 204; [2014] FCAFC 85, distinguished

Re: Beddoe; Downes v Cottam [1893] 1 Ch 547, considered

SingTel Optus Pty Ltd & Ors v Weston [2012] NSWSC 1002, considered

COUNSEL:

D V Ferraro for the applicants

C Wilson for the respondents

SOLICITORS:

Thomson Geer for the applicants

Mullins Lawyers for the respondents

  1. PHILIP McMURDO JA:  On 7 December 2015 I ordered that the second respondent be removed as liquidator of the first respondent.  The parties have since provided written submissions as to costs.
  2. The applicants seek an order that the second respondent pay their costs of and incidental to the proceeding on a standard basis and that he do so without recourse to the assets of the company.  The second respondent submits that the costs of all parties should be costs in the liquidation or alternatively, if he is to be ordered to pay the applicants’ costs, his liability should be limited to the amount of assets of the company available to indemnify him for that purpose.  He further argues that he should be entitled to an indemnity for his own costs.
  3. Clearly the applicants should have their costs.  Further there should be an order that they be paid by the second respondent, who unsuccessfully resisted their application.  The applicants did not persuade the court with all of their submissions but that is no basis in itself for refusing them their costs.
  4. The next question is whether the second respondent should be denied his indemnity from the assets of the company to meet that liability.  In this context the question of indemnity is approached by reference to the entitlement of a trustee to be indemnified out of the trust estate for all the trustee’s costs, charges and expenses “properly incurred”,[1] meaning “reasonably” as well as honestly incurred”.[2]  These statements were applied in the context of a trustee in bankruptcy by the Full Federal Court in Adsett v Berlouis.[3]  That case and others were reviewed by Bergin CJ in Eq in SingTel Optus Pty Ltd & Ors v Weston[4].  and I respectfully adopt her Honour’s summary of the relevant principles as follows:

“13.A liquidator who has acted “reasonably” and/or “properly” in defending removal proceedings is usually entitled to indemnity for the costs he is ordered to pay.  Caution must be exercised to ensure that such expressions are understood in context: Gatsios Holdings v Kritharas Holdings (in Liquidation) [2002] NSWCA 29 per Spigelman CJ at [7]-[17]. However if the liquidator has acted unreasonably or improperly in defending removal proceedings, indemnity may be denied for the costs of the proceedings that it was unreasonable or improper to defend. It will depend upon the particular circumstances of the case.

  1. The discretion to deny indemnity should be exercised with great caution and only in exceptional circumstances: In Re Chennell (1878) 8 Ch 492 at 502 per Jessel MR, quoted with approval by Spigelman CJ in Gatsios Holdings v Kritharas Holdings (in Liquidation) [2002] NSWCA 29 at [10].  It has been described as an “unusual and extreme step”: Adsett v Berlouis at 214.”
  1. In the present case there was no allegation of actual bias or other impropriety on the part of the second respondent.  It can be seen from the outcome that he should not have resisted the application for his removal.  But that is not to say that he acted unreasonably in doing so.  His case was arguable and the basis for his removal was not as clear as that in ASIC v Franklin[5] upon which the applicants’ argument heavily relied.  Many of the argued bases for his removal were not established.  I accept, as the applicants argue, that there was a degree of self interest in the resistance to this application.  On the other hand liquidators facing applications for their removal ought not to accede to them too readily because the replacement of a liquidator will ordinarily involve some cost to an administration.
  2. I am not persuaded that the second respondent acted unreasonably or improperly in the relevant sense.  Therefore this is not a case of exceptional circumstances in which the liquidator should be denied indemnity.  However I am not persuaded to limit the second respondent’s liability to the amount available to indemnify him.
  3. It will be ordered that the second respondent pay to the applicants their costs of the proceeding.  The second respondent is to pay his own costs of the proceeding and is entitled to indemnification from the assets of the first respondent for the payment of the costs of the applicants and his own costs.

Footnotes

[1] Re:  Beddoe; Downes v Cottam [1893] 1 Ch 547 at 558 per Lindley LJ.

[2] Ibid at 562 per Bowen LJ.

[3] (1992) 37 FCR 201 at 211-212.

[4] [2012] NSWSC 1002.

[5] (2014) 223 FCR 204; [2014] FCAFC 85.

Close

Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    Bank of Queensland Ltd & Anor v Ross Auto Auctions Pty Ltd (in liq) (Receivers & Managers appointed) & Anor

  • Shortened Case Name:

    Bank of Queensland Ltd v Ross Auto Auctions Pty Ltd (in liq) (Receivers & Managers appointed)

  • MNC:

    [2016] QSC 19

  • Court:

    QSC

  • Judge(s):

    McMurdo JA

  • Date:

    18 Feb 2016

Litigation History

No Litigation History

Appeal Status

No Status