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High Court decision not the end of the road for Timbercorp investors

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Media Release

Published on

Investors who borrowed money from Timbercorp Finance may still be able to recover some of their losses, despite the High Court dismissing a class action against Timbercorp.

The High Court, sitting in Melbourne this morning, refused to grant investors leave to appeal an earlier Victorian Court of Appeal decision, effectively ending the class action.

Timbercorp was Australia’s leading agribusiness company with horticultural assets that included almonds, olives and eucalypt plantations. Around 14,500 investors borrowed a total of $477.8 million from Timbercorp Finance to invest into Timbercorp before the managed investment scheme collapsed and was placed in liquation in 2009.

Slater and Gordon professional litigation lawyer James Naughton said the High Court’s decision was not the end of the road for Timbercorp Finance investors, but warned their options were increasingly limited.

He advised borrowers to carefully consider their options in light of today’s decision and seek legal advice.

“One option may be for investors to consider whether they can recover losses against their financial planner or accountant in circumstances where the advice provided to them to invest in an agribusiness scheme was inappropriate, especially in circumstances where the risks of investing their scheme was not adequately disclosed,” Mr Naughton said. 

“The strength of these claims depends on the advice provided. It is important to get an objective view on those matters before considering litigation.

“For people who borrowed to invest in Timbercorp, the debts remain outstanding and interest continues to accrue on the loans. Timbercorp was aggressively marketed, especially to people who may have had a tax liability problem in any particular tax year. 

“While the scheme was sold as a solution, it has created substantial burdens and ongoing problems for many people,” he said.

Mr Naughton also advised borrowers seek advice on the time limits that may apply to any claim.

“There are strict time limits that apply to investors making claims against their advisors. Once the time limit expires, investors may be completely barred from bringing a claim, even if that claim had good prospects of success.”

Slater and Gordon was not involved in the class action against Timbercorp.