Your Settlement Agent is not a Lawyer
A man commenced the development and sale of a 4 unit site. As a condition of finance, his bank required purchasers of the proposed units to provide confirmation of finance approval every 6 months. One purchaser had finance at the time of signing the contract to purchase a unit, but 6 months later his bank reviewed matters and declined to renew its offer.
The developer had been using a standard form contract for the sale of the units. Neither he nor his settlement agent had considered amending the contract to include a condition for ongoing finance approval.
Unfortunately the developer misunderstood the contract of sale and thought that the purchaser’s loss of finance amounted to a breach of the contract. This in turn caused the developer to act in a way that amounted to a “repudiation” of the contract, allowing the purchasers to call for the return of their deposit.
Had the developer sought our advice sooner, then this unfortunate situation might have been avoided.
A businessman asked for advice concerning the renegotiation of his distribution agreement with a supplier. The arrangement had been in place for 6 months and some issues had arisen between the parties.
Our client was very surprised to discover that:
- the contract term was not 12 months, but 5 years;
- there were substantial minimum purchase obligations;
- the supplier was entitled to change product specifications at its convenience without prior notice to our client;
- there was no obligation on the supplier to rectify any defects in product supplied;
- what our client understood was to be an exclusive agency in Western Australia for the entire term of the agreement, was only an exclusivity for 30 days.
It was unfortunate that our client had not obtained professional advice before signing the contract. However, we gave them advice on negotiating strategies and various amendments which might be made to the contract to ameliorate the most damaging aspects but preserve the commercial relationship.
Assistance for someone subject to administration
We were appointed to represent an elderly woman. She and her husband were the subject of two separate contracts of sale in relation to their home, one contract having been effected by the children of the couple pursuant to Powers of Attorney.
The first ‘purchaser’ had commenced court proceedings to enforce his contract of sale. The second ‘purchaser’ had taken possession of the house, lodged a caveat and was also threatening legal action.
This matter had remained unresolved for over two years, despite the couple having instructed (prior to our appointment) another solicitor to represent and advise them. The accounts rendered by the solicitor were very large and out of proportion to the work done. Some of those accounts had been paid by the couple’s children, who were demanding repayment. The solicitor was threatening action in relation to the unpaid balance of the accounts.
The real estate agent who had been involved in the first contract of sale had instructed solicitors and was also threatening action regarding the payment of his commission.
We engaged the various parties in discussions regarding their respective claims and the position of our client. Within six months we had:
- removed the second purchaser from the house and secured the withdrawal of his caveat and his claim at no cost;
- sold the house to the first purchaser and secured termination of the court proceedings for minimal consideration;
- settled the claims of the estate agent at no cost;
- terminated the claims by the solicitor and the children at no cost.
Protection of a Retail Shop
A gentleman was presented with a notice requiring him to vacate his retail shop premises, which would have resulted in the closure of a business with a turnover of many millions each year. A succession of landlords had attempted to charge in excess of fair market rental and although he had attempted to reach agreements regarding fair rent, these agreements fell through upon each successive sale of the premises.
We obtained an immediate injunction to prevent the closure of the shop and then engaged in negotiations with the landlord and their solicitors. We negotiated a fresh lease for 10 years plus an option to renew for a further term at a fair market rental and fair market rental increases.
Claims in Relation to a Deceased Estate
A woman passed away and was survived by her two adult sons. In her will, she left almost her entire estate to only one son.
We represented the other son and assisted him in obtaining a fair share of his mother’s estate. The matter was resolved at mediation, which meant that:
- each parties’ costs were minimised;
- the parties were able to make an agreement which suited them;
- the matter was resolved quickly
- the brothers could heal the rift between them and normalise family relationships
A man died without a will. He was survived by his de-facto wife and her 2 children and his mother.
Unfortunately his mother denied her son’s relationship with his de-facto spouse, took control of the estate and claimed his superannuation.
Oldfield Legal assisted the de-facto widow in pursuing her rights before the Supreme Court and the Superannuation Appeals Tribunal. We engaged in firm negotiations with the mother and reached a good resolution which afforded our client with needed financial support and recognition of her relationship with the deceased.
Obtaining Probate of an Informal Will
A man passed away. He had left a document which he had intended to operate as his will, but was not valid because it had not been signed correctly and did not contain all of the information a will must contain.
If the will was not valid, then he would have died ‘intestate’.
We succeeded in obtaining Probate of the document, so that his estate could be administered in accordance with the intentions of the deceased.
We then assisted his de-facto spouse in making sure the estate was administered according to the law and so that it could be distributed without undue delay or dispute.