The High Court has dismissed an appeal against the decision of the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal in Willmott Forests Ltd v Willmott Growers Group Inc. Willmott Forests Ltd is in liquidation, and receivers and managers have been appointed. In that case, the VCA held that a liquidator’s disclaimer of leases extinguished the leasehold interest held by the lessee. The central question before the High Court was the proper construction of the s 568(1A) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), which provides that a ‘liquidator cannot dislaim a contract (other than an unprofitable contract or a lease of land) except with the leave of the Court’, specifically, whether ‘a lease of land’ includes any lease to which the company is a party, or only leases in which the company is the tenant. The majority (French CJ, Hayne and Kiefel JJ) held that a lease granted by the company to a tenant is a contract, and the liquidators are therefore empowered to disclaim the leases. Gageler J in a separate judgment also dismissed the appeal. Keane J dissented.
|High Court Judgment|| HCA 51||4 December 2013|
|High Court Documents||Willmott Growers|
|Full Court Hearing|| HCATrans 171||9 August 2013|
|Special Leave Hearing|| HCATrans 106||10 May 2013|
|Appeal from VCA|| VSCA 202||29 August 2012|
|VSC Judgment|| VSC 29||9 February 2012|