Couple save home in battle against Macquarie Bank

In proceedings in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2005, James Conomos Lawyers acted for a couple, Mr and Mrs Lin, who took on one of Australia's biggest banks and won.

In 1999 and 2000, Macquarie Bank lent money to a property developer for the construction of units and houses on land near Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast. Mr and Mrs Lin's son, Konrad, was introduced to the project by Macquarie and subsequently became a director of the property development company. A family trustee company, of which he and his parents were directors, took a 25% shareholding in the company.

Not long into the project the developer ran into financial difficulties and Macquarie went into possession of the site. Macquarie ended up completing the first stage of the project but the development company still owed the bank more than $9 million.

Konrad was the registered owner of the house Mr and Mrs Lin were living in at the time, and the bank relied on this when it accepted his personal guarantee and agreed to finance the development.  Macquarie brought proceedings to enforce the guarantee.

James Conomos Lawyers instituted separate proceedings for Mr and Mrs Lin with a view to protecting their home from Macquarie's claim against their son. Mr Conomos successfully argued they were the beneficial owners of the property even though it was registered in Konrad's name. Further, Mr and Mrs Lin had provided all of the money used to purchase the house in 1994 and that Konrad in fact held the house on trust for them. James Conomos Lawyers sought a declaration from the Supreme Court to that effect.

Macquarie contested Mr and Mrs Lin's assertions, arguing they had not provided the purchase monies and that they had intended Konrad to be the beneficial owner, not a trustee.

The Supreme Court ordered Konrad pay Macquarie almost $9.5 million. However, in a victory for Mr and Mrs Lin, Justice McMurdo accepted their lawyer's submission and found they were the owners of the property, which Konrad held on trust for them. Again, James Conomos Lawyers was able to protect the rights of individuals in extraordinary circumstances.

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