Tobaji v NAB [2009] NSWSC 41

In this case the borrowers, Mr & Mrs Tobaji, were elderly Lebanese immigrants with limited English. They claimed they wanted to borrow $12,000 but were duped into borrowing far more by a loan broker.

The lender put forward an alternative explanation – that the borrowers knew what they were doing and borrowed the money for the purpose of lending it out on high interest caveat loans. The lender drew the Court’s attention to a caveat signed by the borrowers to support their theory. The borrowers retorted that their signatures were forged.

The Johnston J noted that the allegedly forged signatures were witnessed by the borrower’s solicitor. The solicitor was therefore a material witness and had to cease acting in the case.

The solicitor told the court his signature witnessing the caveat was also forged. The court expressed doubts asking “why did you not tell the Law Society?”  The solicitor retorted that he did and then created a back-dated letter to evidence his claim. Unfortunately the letter was written on his current letterhead that had his new partner’s name on it. His letterhead at the time he supposedly sent the letter was quite different.

The borrower lost and the solicitor was found to be untruthful and referred to the Law Society for investigation.

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