Recent Cases

Boensch v Pascoe [2019] HCA 49 (13 December 2019) (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ)


Bankruptcy – Bankrupt estate – Where “the property of the bankrupt” vested in trustee in bankruptcy pursuant to s 58 of Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) – Where bankrupt held estate in land under Torrens system on trust – Whether property held by bankrupt on trust capable of vesting in trustee in bankruptcy – Whether bankrupt had a valid beneficial interest – Whether estate vested in trustee in bankruptcy in equity.

Real property – Torrens system – Caveats – Where trustee in bankruptcy lodged caveat claiming “Legal Interest pursuant to the Bankruptcy Act 1966” and refused or failed to withdraw caveat after request – Whether caveator liable to pay compensation under s 74P(1) of Real Property Act 1900 (NSW) for lodging and maintaining caveat “without reasonable cause” – Whether existence of caveatable interest or honest belief on reasonable grounds in such interest sufficient for “reasonable cause” – Whether claimant established that caveator had neither caveatable interest in property nor honest belief on reasonable grounds in having such interest – Whether possibility of trust being set aside under s 120 or s 121 of Bankruptcy Act conferred caveatable interest – Whether caveat adequately described equitable estate in fee simple – Whether deficiency in statement of interest demonstrated absence of “reasonable cause”.

Trusts – Trustees – Right of indemnity – Where trustee incurred significant expenses in his capacity as trustee ordinarily entitling him to be indemnified out of trust property – Where trustee asserted “mutually beneficial arrangement” with “the trust” – Whether asserted arrangement prejudiced trustee’s right of indemnity wholly or in part – Whether value of benefits to trustee under asserted arrangement equal to or exceeded total of trust expenses incurred.

Words and phrases – “beneficial interest”, “caveatable interest”, “caveat against dealings”, “circuity of action”, “contingent beneficial interest”, “determination of non-dispositive issues in appeals”, “honest belief on reasonable grounds”, “judicial economy”, “most remote possibility of interest”, “property held by the bankrupt in trust for another person”, “right of indemnity”, “subject to the equities”, “the property divisible among the bankrupt’s creditors”, “the property of the bankrupt”, “without reasonable cause”.