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August 20, 2012

Westpac v Bell Group: appeal dismissed

In Westpac Banking Corporation -v- The Bell Group Ltd (In Liq) [No 3] [2012] WASCA 157 the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia has substantially dismissed an appeal by a group of banks against orders that they pay various amounts and interest totalling over $1.5 billion back to Bell Group companies.

In one of the longest running cases in Australian legal history, the Court of Appeal has revised the damages payable: they are expected to exceed $2 billion plus costs.

UPDATE 18 March 2013: The High Court has granted an application by the banks for special leave to appeal.

The Bell Group collapsed in the 1990s. The issue related to whether the Banks disgorge moneys obtained from the conversion of Bell group property transferred to the Banks on or about 26 January 1990, the effect of which alienation had been the exclusion of other creditors from access to that property. It was asserted by the liquidators and other creditors that the transfer of that property to the Banks occurred in a situation of acknowledged insolvency.

Background: see here and here.

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Posted 20th August 2012 by David Jacobson in Corporations Act, Financial Services