Fortress Credit Corporation (Australia) II Pty Ltd v Fletcher

The High Court has dismissed an appeal from the NSW Court of Appeal in another matter relating to the Octaviar investment group collapse. As with the related matters, this challenge relates to extensions of time under s 588FF of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) which allows a liquidator to apply to the court for a declaration that transactions made by an insolvent prior to liquidation are ‘voidable transactions’. On 19 September 2011, the respondent liquidators obtained a ‘shelf order’ extending the time for making a voidable transaction claim to 3 April 2012 (under s 588FF(3)(b)), and subsequently brought proceedings under s 588FF(1) against the appellants. On 8 June 2012, the liquidators had the shelf order reheard and extended again by Black J, without the appellants being notified. The NSWCA dismissed the appeal against this decision, holding that the court had the power to make shelf orders, that BP Australia Ltd v Brown [2003] NSWCA 216 which is said to support that power was not ‘plainly wrong’, and that no ‘re-exercise’ of the power occurred because the original order had not been discharged.

The Court unanimously held that the text of s 588FF(3)(b) could be construed to allow the court to make a shelf order to mitigate the strictness of the time limits in s 588FF(3)(a) where appropriate (at [27]–[27]), rejecting each of the appellant’s purposive and consequentialist arguments that no such orders could be made (see at [22]–[26]).

High Court Judgment [2015] HCA 10 11 March 2015
Result Appeal dismissed
High Court Documents Fortress Credit
Full Court Hearing [2014] HCATrans 279  11 December 2014
Special Leave Hearing [2014] HCATrans 233  17 October 2014
Appeal from NSWCA [2014] NSWCA 148 14 May 2014
Trial Judgment, NSWSC
[2012] NSWSC 1460 30 November 2012
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About Martin Clark

Martin Clark is a PhD Candidate and Judge Dame Rosalyn Higgins Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Research Fellow at Melbourne Law School. He holds honours degrees in law, history and philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and an MPhil in Law from MLS. While at MLS, he worked as a researcher for several senior faculty members, was a 2012 Editor of the Melbourne Journal of International Law, tutor at MLS and various colleges, a Jessie Legatt Scholar, and attended the Center for Transnational Legal Studies Program.