by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd
Peter Francis is a high-flying legal-eagle with the high-powered law firm Maddocks Lawyers of Melbourne. Peter Francis wrote a letter to a vendor of real estate on behalf of a very well known real Melbourne estate agent, accusing the vendor of “dummy bidding”. It is highly unusual for a lawyer to make a direct allegation of such a serious nature, and so I decided to investigate the matter.
Why did Francis write to the vendor?
Here is the letter written by Peter Francis of Maddocks Lawyers to the vendor. Details of the vendor and the estate agent have been blanked out because at this stage I want to focus on the letter, rather than the parties involved.
What is of particular interest is the following:
“…our client subsequently discovered that the person to whom the property was knocked down was a ‘dummy bidder’ and that he made the bid on your behalf within the meaning of section 38 of the Sale of Land Act 1962.
Of course, our client did not know and had no way of knowing that any of the bids which it accepted from the ‘dummy bidder’ were made on your behalf and were not genuine.”
Given that the estate agent did not initially know that the bidder was a ‘dummy bidder’, something must have happened to bring this to the attention of the estate agent. What was the “smoking gun” that caused the estate agent to realise that he had a dummy bidding situation on his hands? In other words, what was the evidence?