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A contractor, who was the former brother-in-law of the Defendant, carried out major renovations on a property in Winston Hills owned by the Defendant and her former husband.

The value of these renovations was alleged to be worth around $700,000. There was no written agreement between the contractor and the Defendant in relation to the works.

The contractor later sought to get a written acknowledgment from the Defendant that she owed him for the renovations through a Deed, which was prepared by his solicitors.

Although the Deed was signed by the parties, the Defendant, who was in the process of separating from her husband at the time of these proceedings (contractor’s brother) claimed, amongst other things, that the contractor should be barred from recovering any monies by virtue of sect. 10 of the Home Building Act (the Act) as there was no written compliant contract under sect. 7 of the Act.

Robb J sitting in Supreme Court’s equity jurisdiction, found that the requirements of the Act did not prevent the contractor from recovering his debt pursuant to the terms of the Deed. However, the contractor was unable to enforce the terms of the Deed against the Defendant who succeeded in her claims that the Deed was unjust and therefore, deemed void under the provisions of the Contract Review Act.

The Court, nevertheless, accepted the contractor’s alternative pleaded claim for restitution because it found it would be unfair if he was unable to recover a reasonable sum for the works he carried out on the property. Due to lack of evidence from the parties about the proper cost of the renovations, the Court deferred making an order and asked that the parties conduct a cost-effective way to reach a fair determination about what the contractor should be paid. The matter is due to return to the Court later this year for a determination of that final question.

Anjoul v Anjoul [2021] NSWSC 592