In Duic v Duic [2012] NSWSC 76 the Supreme Court held that a father’s promise that his property would belong to his son was an irrevocable promise. Our summary of the trial decision for the case can be read here.

A successful appeal in the New South Wales Court of Appeal has overturned the above decision in Duic v Duic [2013] NSWCA 42.

The issues on appeal were, first, whether the son changed his position in reliance on his father’s promises, rendering it unconscionable for the father to go back on those promises and second, if he did, what was the appropriate remedy.

Evidence of Reliance

The appeal Judge found that the evidence relied upon, namely the witness testimony of the Liberal Councilor for the Ryde City Council, did not sufficiently corroborate the son’s evidence. He had given some evidence about the son effecting improvements to the land, but none about whether the son did that work in reliance on Josip’s promises. There was therefore no express evidence of the son’s reliance other than his own and this was insufficient as the son’s testimony had been rejected in whole by the Primary Judge (this finding was not argued on appeal).

Without the necessary evidence of reliance, the son’s claim failed and the father’s appeal was successful.

The Appropriate Remedy

Had the son’s claim been successful, it was found that the primary judge’s grant of relief was not appropriate. The improvements made were of a very limited nature and were for the son’s benefit in the conduct of his radiator business, which the son obtained over many years effectively negating any loss.

The findings on appeal does not change the important lesson learnt from the trial at first instance and that is that making promises you do not intend to keep can have expensive consequences.

This article is intended to provide general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. To obtain legal advice tailored to your situation please contact Rudstein Kron Lawyers.