The fate of the city’s iconic former post office building has become the subject of a Supreme Court legal battle.
The building is owned by the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council which was placed into administration by the state government last October.
A stoush has now erupted between two private companies that previously had dealings with the land council and the current administrator, Terry Lawler.
The plaintiffs – Knightsbridge North Lawyers and Advantage Property Experts Syndications – claim they are together owed a sum of more than $326,700 by the council, plus interest and costs.
They have asked the court to appoint a receiver to take control of Awabakal’s land holdings, including the landmark post office building and a property at 57 James Street in Hamilton.
According to the statement of claim, Knightsbridge North Lawyers was enlisted by the land council in 2014 to advise it “on various avenues and strategies for the development of certain land” that the board had unanimously voted to sell. The firm alleges Awabakal has failed to pay it $26,743 owed.
The Herald previously reported that Advantage was working on massive property deal with Awabakal board members, that would see a Warners Bay subdivision bankroll the restoration of the post office.
Advantage alleges it paid another company, Forlife Development, $300,000 to prepare plans and reports relating to the development of Awabakal land. It claims it is owed the full amount by Awabakal under an agreement between the parties.
Lawyers acting for the administrator have argued all land dealings have to be approved by voting members of the land council and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. Any other agreements were “unenforceable” and the parties involved were not entitled to damages, it was alleged.
It was argued board members who entered into agreements with Knightsbridge and Advantage did not have the authority to do so.
The matter has been adjourned until July 21.