Bob Jones loses clawback case at appeal stage

Major case impacts who gets what when a company goes under.
Sir Bob Jones' company has lost its appeal.

The Court of Appeal has found against Sir Bob Jones’ company and in favour of the liquidators of Northern Crest, formerly known as Blue Chip.

In a case closely watched by insolvency practitioners, the liquidators of Northern Crest Anthony McCullagh and Stephen Lawrence had argued that Sir Bob’s company Robt Jones Holding had skipped the queue, and sought to make $800,000 in payments made to it voidable.

Liquidators apply to do this if they believe it will leave other creditors at a disadvantage and can meet a statutory test.

At the High Court stage Justice Christine Gordon ruled that, despite the payments not actually being from Northern Crest, the voidable transactions test had been satisfied and Robt. Jones Holdings needed to give the money back.

At the appeal court stage, Sir Bob’s firm argued that the liquidators failed to prove that the payments to RJH by Columbus were a redirection of licensing fees due to Northern Crest, and that the arrangement was a sham.

It was also argued that Justice Christine Gordon in the High Court was wrong to rely on the MYOB documents she had before her, but the Court of Appeal did not agree.

The panel of Justices Mark Cooper, Helen Winkelmann and Joe Williams dismissed the appeal.

In their most recent report, the liquidators noted that they could not complete the liquidation until the court matter is over.

At June 2, there was a secured claim totalling $4.8million for the receivers of Lombard, while there were 17 unsecured claims of $10.2m.  

Mr Lawrence said in a statement, “We are naturally very pleased with the result but not overly surprised as Gordon J’s judgment was comprehensive as the Court of Appeal has endorsed.” 

Sir Bob is understood to be overseas at present and could not be reached for comment.

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