Commercial Law Update - Jane v Bob Jane Corporation Pty Ltd & Anor

Commercial Law

On 9 August 2013, Justice Sifris of the Supreme Court of Victoria dismissed a claim brought by former racing-car driver and businessman, Bob Jane, against two companies controlled by his son Rodney Jane.

Bob Jane sought an account of all sums due to him in respect of his personal loan account with one of the companies.  As part of that claim he specifically sought to recover amounts totalling almost $3 million which he claimed he had loaned to the companies. The loans were said to be for the purchase of two Melbourne properties. The principal issues considered by the Court were whether the first sum of $520,000 had been provided as a gift or a loan to Rodney, secondly, whether the remaining $2.4 million (which the parties agreed was a loan) had been repaid and thirdly whether Bob Jane’s loan account had been settled and fully repaid.

The Court was informed that in previous Family Court proceedings between Bob Jane and his third wife, Laree Jane, Bob Jane had provided sworn evidence that the first sum was a gift and the remainder had been repaid in full by the Defendants. Bob Jane sought to resile from his previous evidence, claiming that, after suffering a stroke in 2006, he was restricted in his ability to involve himself in his finances and mistakenly accepted assurances by his son and legal advisors that the loan had been repaid in full.

Ian Waller SC successfully argued on behalf of his clients that Bob Jane had emphasised his ill health in an attempt to avoid responsibility for his actions. Justice Sifris agreed, finding that, in this case, there was no causal nexus between the stroke (or other ill health) and Bob Jane’s ability to give instructions and understand, comprehend and make effective and informed decisions. His Honour held that the evidence provided by the Plaintiff did not “establish any sufficient deficiency in this regard.”

Justice Sifris ultimately decided in favour of Rodney Jane’s companies, finding that the first sum had been provided as a gift to Rodney, the second sum had been repaid in full, and the loan account had been settled and repaid in full to Bob Jane.

Bob Jane may appeal the decision.

List G Barristers member Ian Waller SC appeared on behalf of Rodney Jane’s companies.

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