Geoff Reidy must’ve near drowned earlier this month, engulfed by a wave of satisfaction after winning an order for indemnity costs against a disgruntled director who’d sought to portray the Rodgers Reidy principal in terms not entirely favourable.
The smear attempt failed of course, crashing impotently against the seawall of logic personified by NSW Supreme Court chief justice in equity Julie Ward, who in Jainti Pty Ltd v Fraser Panorama Pty Ltd (2)  NSWSC 965 alluded more than once to the fact that the basis alleged for the negative portrayal involved claims irrelevant to the dispute she’d been asked to resolve.
“Such a submission is extraordinary when it is considered that this suggests the liquidator should have been attempting to settle a dispute even before one had arisen; and when the evidence well and truly establishes that there was discontent between the Zamattia and Morabito family members even before the appointment of the liquidator (and discontent between the Zamattia family members from a later time but in any event before the litigation had commenced),” Justice Julie Ward.
What her honour had been asked to determine was whether or not Reidy was entitled to an order for indemnity costs, having comprehensively won a fight over entitlement to $161,160 (plus interest) held by a related entity, Fraser Panorama Pty Ltd, one of various entities forming the Zamora Homes Group.
As liquidator of Zamora – and Jainti Pty Ltd – Reidy had previously asserted a claim to the money and when he heard in 2018 that the Fraser Panorama funds were to be distributed to trust beneficiaries – but not Jainti – he backed himself, seeking and obtaining freezing orders whilst Jainti’s entitlement or otherwise could be settled.
After Reidy won on the entitlement question (See: Jainti Pty Ltd v Fraser Panorama Pty Ltd  NSWSC 744) he asked the court to award a portion of the total costs of those proceedings as indemnity costs on the basis that he’d made what her honour described as a “low” but ultimately reasonable offer to settle matter, which Zamattia had rejected.
For Reidy her honour’s conclusions will provide satisfaction served cold, given this is not the first time he’s tried to extract indemnity costs out of parties connected to the long running dispute between the families behind Zamora Homes.
As iNO previously reported, the court rejected Reidy’s application in 2019 for indemnity costs against Zamora directors Sam and Frank Morabito after they dropped their application for the appointment of a special purpose liquidator (SPL), which they had initially insisted was necessary on the basis that Reidy would be conflicted in investigating payments to various underlying trust because any monies recovered would be applied to his fees in priority to beneficiaries’ claims.
This time around he’s secured both the disputed funds – which had been placed in the trust account of solicitors Bird & Bird – and his costs of the exercise.
The two judgments – coming in June and then this month – also dispel any veracity attaching to claims advanced at various times by directors that that it was Reidy’s fault that the solvent winding up of Jainti had become an insolvent winding up and his “dilatory” conduct was the problem.
“Such a submission is extraordinary when it is considered that this suggests the liquidator should have been attempting to settle a dispute even before one had arisen; and when the evidence well and truly establishes that there was discontent between the Zamattia and Morabito family members even before the appointment of the liquidator (and discontent between the Zamattia family members from a later time but in any event before the litigation had commenced),” Justice Ward said.
“Nor could I possibly form the view that the reason the company ended up in a position of being wound up in insolvency was due to the liquidator’s delay in its winding up.”