Case Study: Property Purchase Litigation

Legal Team
Our clients escaped liability for a claim of more than $300,000 on a property purchase.

Client Story

Civil litigation. Our clients had entered into a contract to purchase a property. During the cooling-off period, severe termite damage and infestation was discovered. The clients communicated their intention to rescind the contract to the real estate agent but, due to what the agent told them, did not formalise the rescission or extension of the cooling-off period through their conveyancer.

The vendor then sought to enforce the contract against the clients and sue them for damages in the District Court. It was partway through this litigation that we were first instructed to act in the matter.

The Issues

Whether the conduct and representations of the agent were wrong in equity and/or binding on behalf of the vendors such that the contract for sale would no longer be enforceable against the clients.

What We Did

1. Located a key witness who, to that point, was unable to be found by our clients and their previous conveyancer and solicitors

2. Corrected flaws in the pleadings that had been poorly drafted and filed by our clients’ previous solicitors

3. Compelled the real estate agent to give evidence and obtained significant admissions from him in cross-examination

The Outcome

The court held that the contract was not enforceable against our clients and they escaped liability for a claim of more than $300,000. The court also ordered that the vendors pay our clients’ costs of the proceedings.

The court also found that the agent was particularly culpable, and found he had acted dishonestly both in his dealings with the parties and in the court proceedings themselves.

The court left open to the vendors the opportunity to file a claim against the agent but, before that claim could be finalised, the agent declared bankruptcy to avoid having to pay the poor vendors.

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