Recent Cases

Morris v Leaney [2022] NSWCA 95 (17 June 2022) (Payne, White and Beech-Jones JJA)


Catchwords:


PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE – architect – respondent was engaged as architect for appellant’s home renovations – appellants indicated initial budget of $300,000 which was later revised to $600,000 – respondent provided “opinion on probable cost” of $590,000 excluding GST and other items in April 2015 for preliminary design – further additions to design thereafter – appellants engaged builder who commenced work on cost plus basis in December 2015 – falling out between parties and appellants continued with builder – by June 2016 substantial increase in costs and some aspects of design not pursued – renovations cost $780,000 but only increased value of house by $330,000 – appellants sued for false and misleading representation about cost of renovations and breach of contractual and tortious duty to advise about cost – appellants claimed damages on a no transaction basis namely that if known that cost would have exceeded $600,000 would not have undertaken renovations – trial judge rejected appellants evidence of express representations about cost of renovations – trial judge upheld contract and tort claim but only awarded nominal damages – whether trial judge’s approach to damages was erroneous – whether trial judge’s findings warranted finding that respondent obliged to advise appellants that renovations could not be undertaken for $600,000 – whether appellants would not have undertaken renovations if they had been so advised – held – trial judge’s approach to damages erroneous – however not able to conclude that had respondent not breached his contractual and tortious duties then appellants would not have undertaken renovations – appeal dismissed