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Barton V. Amstrong Notes

BCL Law Notes > Restitution of Unjust Enrichment BCL Notes

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BARTON V. AMSTRONG FACTS Barton seeks a declaration that a deed dated January 17, 1967, made between the appellant and the first 14 respondents (including Amstrong) and certain deeds ancillary thereto had been executed by him under duress exerted by the first respondent, Alexander Ewan Armstrong, and were void so far as concerned him. The case is the outcome of a struggle between Armstrong and Barton for control of the fourteenth respondent, Landmark Corporation Ltd., a public company. Barton was the managing director of Landmark and was a substantial shareholder in it though his holding was less than that controlled by Armstrong. The principal activity of Landmark was the development through the medium of the eighth respondent, Paradise Waters (Sales) Pty. Ltd. (hereinafter called "Sales"), and the ninth respondent, Paradise Waters Ltd., of a building estate near Surfer's Paradise in Queensland which was to be known as "Paradise Waters." The "Paradise Waters" project involved the expenditure of large sums in dredging and forming canals to provide water frontages for the lots into which the land was to be subdivided for sale. This expenditure was being financed by advances made by United Dominions Corporation (Australia) Ltd. In the middle of 1966 relations between Armstrong and Barton which hitherto had been not unfriendly began to deteriorate. In particular Barton resented what he considered to be the undue interference of Armstrong in the day-to-day business of the company and the use by Armstrong of office facilities for purposes of his own unconnected with the company's affairs. About December 20, U.D.C. threatened to appoint a receiver under its first mortgage unless the sum owing to it was reduced by 60,000 dollars and Armstrong agreed to make an advance of 300,000 dollars to finance the project. The cash payment made by Landmark under the deed denuded it of most of its liquid assets; U.D.C. refused to change its mind with regard to the financing of the Paradise Waters project; and Barton failed to obtain finance from any other source. Consequently Landmark was soon in serious financial difficulties. At this point, Barton felt that Paradise Waters was looking like an impossible project. Eventually agreement was reached on the following basis: (a) Landmark should transfer to Armstrong for 60,000 dollars a penthouse listed at 80,000 dollars; (b) Landmark should pay Armstrong 140,000 dollars in cash within seven days; (c) the balance of 300,000 dollars owing in respect of the 400,000 dollars debt and the 100,000 dollars cash consideration for the 40 per

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