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Judge orders disclosure of documents in real estate row

Aerial view showing the properties at Inglewood Lane, Paget (Image from Google Earth)

The disclosure of documents related to a land row between two private estate neighbours has been ordered by the Supreme Court.

But Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden rejected applications made by Samuel Andrew Banks for the handover of other material.

A discovery summons dated August 26 was used to seek documents from Simon and Deirdre Storey, who are the defendants in the case and owners of a property on Inglewood Lane in Paget.

Mr Banks, the plaintiff, owns the neighbouring property.

In a ruling published online, Mr Justice Mussenden said that a statement of claim earlier “set out that there are boundary issues of trespass, nuisance and conversion and seeks various orders including injunctions and damages”.

The judge said copies of documents were already exchanged between the parties but that each requested more material.

Mr Justice Mussenden granted Mr Banks’s discovery summons “in part” and listed reasons for his findings.

Among the items he ruled should be disclosed was a “deed pack” about the Storeys’ property.

Mr Justice Mussenden said that the bundle “will contain documents that are relevant to the issues in this case” including boundaries, a zoning order and easements.

The judge considered a request for disclosure of architectural drawings, designs, invoices and receipts about what he labelled the “patio retaining wall”.

Mr Justice Mussenden wrote that the Storeys said the combined cost for labour and materials for the structure was $1,450.

He added that Keith Robinson, the defendants’ lawyer, said the pair confirmed “numerous times” that no such documents existed in their possession.

Mr Justice Mussenden said: “Further, no drawings or designs were produced for the patio retaining wall and no contractors were engaged as Mr Storey constructed the patio retaining wall himself.

“In light of the circumstances set out above and in the evidence, I decline to order discovery of these documents as the defendants state that they do not exist subject to one exception that I am satisfied that I should order the disclosure of the invoices for the materials used for the patio retaining wall.”

The judge granted an order for disclosure of enforcement notices and other items issued by the Department of Planning in relation to the Storeys’ property that was part of the case.

He found that “no pleadings” touched on other lots in the neighbourhood, about which documents were also requested. Mr Justice Mussenden declined to grant disclosure in relation to those.

The judge also ruled against making an order for discovery of a planning department zoning order “as the defendants state that they have never had possession of the document until these proceedings were commenced”.

Lawyers for Mr Banks filed a writ of summons in August 2021 that sought a permanent injunction to restrain the Storeys “from trespassing or creating a nuisance” on his property.

He claimed for damages, an order for demolition of “any construction wrongfully erected or placed” on his land and a mandatory injunction requiring the Storeys to restore Mr Banks’s property “to its original state as existed prior to the defendants’ wrongful acts”.

The writ alleged that the Storeys trespassed on Mr Banks’s property and the removal of trees and vegetation resulted in “consequential destruction of the natural habitats for birds and other wildlife”.

Mr Justice Mussenden said that materials ordered for disclosure should be provided within 21 days of his November 18 ruling.

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To read the judgment in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.