Class action against Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank managing director Mike Hirst today welcomed a court decision to strike out the amended statement of claim in the first class action brought against the bank on behalf of investors in Great Southern managed investment schemes.
Today, Justice Croft of the Supreme Court of Victoria struck out the amended statement of claim in the class action against the Bank initiated by the law firm Macpherson + Kelley (M+K) on behalf of investors in the Great Southern Plantations 2005 and 2006 managed investment schemes.
While Justice Croft has left the door open for M+K to bring a new argument, Mr Hirst said the judgment clearly delivered a damaging blow to the case being alleged against the Bank.
“M+K has spent the past 15 months preparing its claim, which one could assume it believed was its strongest argument against the Bank. However, that argument has failed and now it will need to think of new arguments if it is to pursue a class action on behalf of its clients.
“While it is still possible for M+K to mount new legal arguments, this latest development must be seen as a significant setback.”
Mr Hirst said the bank would now write to borrowers to inform them of this development and urge those borrowers not making loan repayments to consider recommencing repayments.
“If borrowers have discontinued repayments pending the outcome of the class actions, today’s judgment supports our view that the loans are valid, so now is the time for them to consider the benefits of bringing their loan up to date.”
Mr Hirst said the bank had worked hard in the best interests of borrowers to secure value from the agricultural assets owned by Great Southern, noting that many of these schemes are under new management. Equally, the bank expected borrowers to meet their commitments.
“We have an obligation to all our stakeholders to recover monies loaned to investors in these schemes and we will set out to do so,” Mr Hirst said.