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Louth v Diprose
Transcript of Louth v Diprose
High court of Australia
Louth v Diprose
This case was first decided at the Supreme Court of South Australia, and the court’s decision was in favour of Louis Diprose
Mary Louth appealed to the full court but she lost.
Then, she appealed again to the high court.
Mary seeks to challenge the primary judge King’s decision that she had been guilty of unconscionable conduct in procuring and retaining the gift of a house made to her by Louis.
Louis was a solicitor, divorced with 3 children
He became friends with Mary initially in Tasmania, but Louis was more strongly attached to Mary than she was to him.
He sent her love poems, gave her many gifts and paid her household bills from time time when she was at Adelaide.
where she lived in a rented house owned by her sister’s husband in 1982
by Anh Tran
In May 1985, she telephoned Louis saying that she was going to be asked to leave the house and
if she lost it , she would commit suicide
. In response, he agreed to buy her this house and put it in her name.
Their relationship deteriorated when Louis temporarily resided at the house
He wanted her to transfer the house to him. Mary refused so he brought this action
Whether the house was given as a gift ?
If so, whether the gift was the result of unconscionable conduct ?
Is a house given as a gift ?
Louis claimed that he stipulated for retransfer but the court rejected this evidence
On the ground that prior to the house transaction, Louis made it clear to her brother in law that the house was a gift for her as it would give her security and piece of mind. This evidence was inconsistent with the stipulation that she was under obligation to retransfer the house to him.
It was held that the house was a gift
The doctrine of unconscionable conduct in Commercial Bank of Australia V Amadio :
“The will of the innocent party, even if independent and voluntary, is the result of the disadvantageous position in which he is placed and of the other party unconscientiously taking advantage of that position”
Louis at special disadvantage as he was emotionally dependent on her
He couldn't make his own judgement
Mary was aware of his vulnerability. She manipulated his infatuation by making suicide threat
The majority judges held that Mary’s conduct was unconscionable
Her appeal was dismissed
Louis could claim the house back