Harding Investments PL v PMP Shareholding PL – shareholders oppression – postscript/update

On 14 December last year I posted an update as to her Honour Justice Gordon’s third (30 November 2011) and fourth (8 December 2011) judgments in this case of shareholders oppression.  My earlier post can be seen here.

I noted at the end of my post that the respondents PMP Shareholding PL and others had filed an application to seek leave to appeal Gordon J’s substantive shareholders oppression judgment of 27 May 2011.

Their application was listed to be heard shortly after my post, on 16 December 2011. However the Federal Court  portal shows that on 15 December 2011, the respondents’ application to seek leave to appeal was dismissed by consent.

On a final note, to illustrate how this shareholders dispute over wastewater company Lotic Pty Ltd has been hard fought every step of the way, the Federal Court portal shows that on 2 March 2011 – in the lead up to the shareholders oppression trial  held in May and  on the same day that the respondents lost their application for security for costs – Lotic Pty Ltd (controlled by the respondents Don Gordon and Paul Dick) issued a statutory demand upon the applicant Harding Investments PL. Harding Investments PL succeeded in its application to have the statutory demand set aside on 16 May 2011 – just a day before the shareholders oppression trial proper commenced – and won yet another costs order in its favour. This, after the respondents had previously adopted what appears may have been a scorched earth stratagem of placing Lotic PL into voluntary administration on 8 November 2010, although the company subsequently executed a Deed of Company Arrangement and the directors resumed control of the company.  Those events are disclosed in Gordon J’s judgments of 2 March 2011 and  27 May 2011.

Finally, it would seem, after Mr Harding was summarily and wrongfully dismissed as CEO and removed from the Board in July 2010 by the other two directors (principals of the other two shareholder companies), after enduring 6 months of what her Honour Justice Gordon has held to have been conduct in breach of the shareholders agreement and shareholders oppression in contravention of s 232 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), the end of this difficult chapter may be in sight.

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