Tighe New­ton Truck­ing wins costs case

Australian Transport News - - News | Inside The Industry -

Tighe New­ton Truck­ing won $8,000 in a Fed­eral Cir­cuit Court case in April af­ter a sub­con­tract­ing ar­range­ment for Crown fork­lifts went sour last year.

Sub­con­trac­tor NT Hauliers and its man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Bruce Meik­le­john, did not ap­pear and had no rep­re­sen­ta­tion dur­ing the hear­ing, in which Tighe New­ton al­leged un­con­scionable con­duct.

With­out con­trary ev­i­dence, the break­down in the re­la­tion­ship ap­pears to have be­gun when Tighe mis­tak­enly as­sumed two of three in­voices for the same amount were du­pli­cates and an in­voice was paid late.

Tighe had as­sumed that it had a credit ac­count with NT Hauliers, which ad­vised that, as Tighe had not agreed to NT Hauliers’ credit terms and con­di­tions, it was on 14-day terms.

More con­sign­ments were trans­acted but a dis­con­nect be­tween the firms that saw shift­ing NT Hauliers as­ser­tions as to what pay­ment schemes and penal­ties were now in play saw three fork­lifts “ware­housed due to an ac­count prob­lem”.

By this stage, com­mu­ni­ca­tion was con­ducted by email only at NT Hauliers’ be­hest.

Tighe made cer­tain pay­ments but these were “not ac­cepted” un­til pay­ment of nearly $17,000 in in­ter­est was made.

Tighe’s lawyers then sent let­ters de­mand­ing the fork­lifts be de­liv­ered with the threat of le­gal ac­tion to fol­low if they were not moved, in­clud­ing a draft ap­pli­ca­tion to the court to start pro­ceed­ings be­fore a dif­fer­ent judge.

Though this was ini­tially re­jected, the fork­lifts were even­tu­ally re­leased.

In award­ing costs, Judge Rolf Driver noted that court pro­ceed­ings were un­avoid­able, given in­ter­est de­mands had been made and the fork­lifts were be­ing held, which Driver de­scribed as “wholly un­rea­son­able, venge­ful and reck­less”.

NT Hauliers’ lack of en­gage­ment in the case did not bar the award­ing of costs, Driver found.

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