Developer Sunland seeks retrial of Dubai-linked case

Australian firm eyes new trial after losing case regarding controversial $14m Dubai deal
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Courtney Trenwith
Mon 15 Apr 2013 01:28 PM

Australian property developer Sunland is seeking a retrial of a court case it lost after accusing a Melbourne businessman of deceiving it during dealings over a controversial $14m Dubai property deal.

The Gold Coast-based firm accused Matthew Joyce and Angus Reed of duping it into paying the multimillion dollar consultancy fee to release a plot in Nakheel’s cancelled Dubai Waterfront project.

The accusations have led to Joyce and another Australian, Marcus Lee, who worked for state-owned developer Nakheel, to be held under house arrest in Dubai since June 2009.

After six months in jail the men were charged with fraud, although no court case has yet been heard.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Clyde Croft dismissed Sunland’s Australian case last year. In what has become a highly publicised judgement, Justice Croft denounced Sunland’s ''fabrications'' and claimed the company had an ''ulterior motive'' for bringing the case – to support its fraud allegations in Dubai.

The decision also has caused the Dubai case to be reconsidered.

However, during the first day of Sunland’s appeal, lawyer David O’Callaghan told the court Justice Croft had failed to properly evaluate the evidence as a whole, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"A serious miscarriage of justice has occurred,” he said, calling for a retrial.

The allegations stem back to 2008, when Sunland alleges it was duped into paying about US$14 million to another Australian company, Prudentia, to secure a development plot known as D17.

It accused Joyce, as Dubai Waterfront's general manager, and Prudentia's Reed, of falsely claiming that Prudentia had rights over D17.

Sunland says it would not have paid the $14m fee to Prudentia if Reed and Joyce had not falsely represented that Prudentia had rights over the land.

However two of the justices hearing the Australian appeal questioned how Sunland could have been misled when there were internal emails in which members of the Prudentia board referred to having rights over the block of land.

The appeal is scheduled to run until Thursday.

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