by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
If a good Samaritan wants to buy you a property, watch out for any equitable strings attached!
After Charles Irvine and Soozie Cooper met through an internet dating service in March 2006, they entered into a sexual relationship. Charles was a successful businessman while Soozie was less financially secure. She had a job, owned her home and was paying off a bank mortgage. Charles’ and Soozie’s relationship lasted until they had an argument in January 2007. They were never de facto partners, remained friends then became opposing Supreme Court litigants.
In June 2007 Soozie told Charles about her financial problems. Over the next six months he happily helped out his former girl-friend with eight deposits totaling $10,500 to her bank account enabling Soozie to pay off a personal loan, a hospital account and to reduce a credit card debt. She did not accept Charles’ other to pay off her mortgage and take a caveat over her home to secure this payment.
During this time Charles helpfully suggested to an apparently depressed Soozie that she should go north with her animals. Soozie considered this, decided to sell her Brisbane home and quickly found one on the Sunshine Coast. But she could not afford to buy it without Charles’ help. No worries. Within days cavalier Charles paid a $1000 deposit on a contract for Soozie’s Sunshine Coast purchase and later placed $382,354 (representing balance purchase monies, costs and outlays) in her solicitors’ trust account.
On 4th December, while emailing trust account details, Soozie reassured Charles: “I will keep track of all these monies and repay you”.
A week later Soozie asked Charles’ what price she should accept for her house, then explained: “I want to sell asap so you get your money.” “That’s an incentive for me,” she continued, “The more I get, the more you get”.
On 12th December, after Charles made the final payment for her purchase, Soozie emailed him asking when he wanted her to sign “that paper” which he was “having drawn up about the money.”
Charles said his lawyers had been slack in getting the paperwork done. “ Technically we do not know each other’s share until your house sells so there is no hurry,” he added before promising to get onto it and let Soozie know.
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