Two brothers lodged caveats against the property of one of their wives. At trial the caveators conceded they had no interest capable of supporting the caveats. The court found that all of the caveats were lodged pursuant to a joint conspiracy for the dominant purpose of injuring the wife by preventing her from accessing the proceeds of sale.
Accordingly the caveators were held jointly liable for damages of $385,000 suffered as a result of the auction being cancelled, the sale being delayed and causing default under the mortgages, and the eventual forced sale at $300,000 less than market value.
The court also awarded the wife exemplary damages of $25,000, because of their ‘deliberate, intentional, reckless and contumelious disregard’ of the wife’s rights.
The court noted that although the wife’s ownership of the property may be liable to be set aside under s 172 of the Property Law Act 1958 (Vic), as having been undertaken with intent to defraud creditors that was not a matter for the caveators to judge. The caveators were not entitled to take the law into their own hands and lodge repeated caveats in the absence of a right to do so.