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Porter, Timothy Norman; Conheady, Christopher Gerard v Mulcahy & Co Accounting Services P/L (ACN 105 360 325); Mulcahy, James Edward & BFMM Investments P/L (ACN 625 266 891) [2021] VSC 572

CONTRACT, EQUITY
Supreme Court of Victoria
Division: 
Common Law Division
Judge(s): 
Delany J
Parties: 

Porter, Timothy Norman; Conheady, Christopher Gerard v Mulcahy & Co Accounting Services P/L (ACN 105 360 325); Mulcahy, James Edward & BFMM Investments P/L (ACN 625 266 891)

Judgment Date: 
13 September 2021
Catchwords: 

CONTRACT - Implied contract of retainer - Novation - Whether retainer of accountant by the plaintiffs or either of them - Implied terms - Good faith - Duty not to disclose or use confidential information - Duty not to make improper use of position to gain advantage or to cause detriment - APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants - Retainer by second plaintiff - Breach - Opportunity usurped by accountant for own benefit and third party incorporated for that purpose - Apple and Pear Australia Ltd v Pink Lady America LLC (2008) Aust Torts Reports 81-942, Branir Pty Ltd v Owston Nominees (No 2) Pty Ltd (2001) 117 FCR 424, Masters Home Improvement Pty Ltd v North East Solution Pty Ltd (2017) 372 ALR 440, Macquarie International Health Clinic Pty Ltd v Sydney South West Area Health Service (2010) 383 ALR 577, BP Refinery (Westernport) Pty Ltd v Shire of Hastings (1977) 180 CLR 266, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Geowash Pty Ltd (Subject to a Deed of Company Arrangement) (No 3) (2019) 368 ALR 441, Coco v A N Clark (Engineers) [1969] RPC 41 applied - Hendriks v McGeogh (2008) Aust Torts Reports 81-942, Fightvision Pty Ltd v Onisforou (1999) 47 NSWLR 473, Renard Construction (ME) Pty Ltd v Minister for Public Works (1992) 26 NSWLR 234, Alcatel Australia Ltd v Scarcella (1998) 44 NSWLR 349, Esso Australia Resources Pty Ltd v Southern Pacific Petroleum NL (recs and mgrs apptd) (admn apptd) [2005] VSCA 228, Burger King Corporation v Hungry Jacks Pty Ltd (2001) 69 NSWLR 558 cited.

EQUITY - Fiduciary relationship - Client and accountant not established category - Relationship of trust and confidence - One plaintiff vulnerable - Confidential information disclosed - Accountant in position to affect interests of the client in a practical sense - Scope of duty - Breach - Hospital Products v United States Surgical Corporation (1984) 156 CLR 41; Grimaldi v Chameleon Mining NL (No 2) (2012) 200 FCR 296; Townsend v Roussety & Co (WA) Pty Ltd (2007) 33 WAR 321 applied - Breen v Williams (1996) 186 CLR 71, ABN Amro Bank N V v Bathurst Regional Council (2014) 224 FCR 1, Pilmer v Duke Group Ltd (in liq) (2001) 207 CLR 165, ASIC v Citicorp (No 4) (2007) 160 FCR 35 cited - Pavan v Ratnam (1996) 23 ACSR 214 distinguished.

EQUITY - Accessorial liability - Knowing assistance - Requisite degree of knowledge - Fiduciary the directing mind of third party corporation - Third party the alter ego of fiduciary - Corporation knowingly assisted breach of fiduciary duty - Grimaldi v Chameleon Mining NL (No 2) (2012) 200 FCR 296, Chickabo Pty Ltd v Zphere Pty Ltd (2019) 57 VR 406, Harstedt Pty Ltd v Tomanek (2018) 55 VR 158 applied - Barnes v Addy (1874) LR 9 Ch App 244, Farah Constructions Pty Ltd v Say-Dee Pty Ltd (2007) 230 CLR 89 cited.

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