In Sokolovska v Galea & Anor  VSC 435 (23 July 2021), Croucher J. the facts were –
- Ms Sokolovska and Mr Galea had a turbulent friendship. After various vicissitudes she in 2019 allowed him to live in her property at Yarraville. She subsequently deposed that they were not intimate partners and that he (said by the Judge to have “such filthy hands”): contributed nothing to their living expenses; was only a “property damaging squatter”; commenced renovations but left the kitchen in “a ripped-up state”; filled the premises with hoarded furniture and rubbish; refused to leave; left nails in the walls, drug paraphernalia in nooks and crannies and rubbish about the place; damaged plaster; caused her to lose rental income; failed to repay loans of thousands of dollars; threw glass bottles at her; lunged at her with a metal rod; fought with others; barricaded himself inside the house; and changed the locks and installed security cameras without her consent.
- Finally a firm of solicitors lodged a caveat on behalf of Galea, without providing his address, with notices to that firm at its address, claiming a freehold estate on the grounds of an “implied, resulting or constructive trust”.
- The plaintiff applied for an order under the Transfer of Land Act s. 90(3). She emailed the firm of solicitors the necessary documents. They replied that they were not instructed to accept service on behalf of Galea and no longer acted for him. She then emailed the necessary documents to Galea personally.
Section 89(1) is the basic caveat provision and s. 89(4) provides: “(4) Every notice relating to any such caveat and any proceedings in respect thereof if served at the address specified in the caveat shall be deemed to be duly served”. Further, s. 113(3) provides: “The address appointed in a caveat as the place at which notices relating to the caveat may be served shall be the address for service of the caveator”.
His Honour held that the caveator, who did not appear, was properly served by reason of s. 89(4). The caveat was removed “pronto” .
Philip H. Barton
Owen Dixon Chambers West
Tuesday, October 5, 2021