Legal Notebook: Hunt & Hunt Lawyers v Michell Morgan Nominees Pty Ltd (ACN 108 571 222) — High Court appeal

Readers of the Legal Notebook journal may recall the judgment of Mitchell Morgan Nominees Pty Ltd v Vella [2011] NSWCA 390, which was covered in the March 2012 edition. That judgment provided some support for the proposition that, in certain circumstances, specific individuals in a lending transaction may not be concurrent wrongdoers.

On 12 December, 2012 the High Court of Australia heard the appeal by Hunt & Hunt Lawyers from the above judgment. A key issue in the appeal was the proper approach to applying the proportionate liability provisions found in the Civil Liability Act (CLA) 2002 (NSW) and equivalent provisions in other Australian jurisdictions. Given the importance of this issue — including to the property valuation industry — members of DLA Piper’s litigation and regulatory team were at court for the hearing.

While the court was receptive to both parties’ submissions, observers report that the court did not seem indisposed to Hunt & Hunt’s submissions, especially those regarding the adoption of a ‘substance over form’ approach when seeking to interpret the relevant legislative provisions. In contrast, there were times when the court appeared somewhat troubled in accepting the more narrow or ‘technical’ submissions of the respondents, including Mitchell Morgan Nominees…

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