The son in financial difficulty who uses his mother’s property as security for a loan is a well known recipe for a dispute with the bank about unfair or unconscionable conduct. That was the case in Permanent Mortgages v Vandenbergh [2010] WASC 10.

The trial judge made the following observations about the evidence of the 94 year old (at the time of trial) mother (at [114]):

“…she did not appear to be physically or mentally frail, although she appeared to be slightly hard of hearing. She arrived in court in a wheelchair, which indicated that she had some difficulty with mobility, but she was able to ascend the steps to the witness box holding on to the rail, and otherwise she gave the appearance of being in reasonably sound health. Also, despite her age, she appeared to be a lively and intelligent woman. Her increasing irritation at the cross-examiner’s questions in a particular area of her evidence was evident, and led at one stage to a sotto voce ‘oh Christ!’, which is not recorded in the transcript“.

The Judge makes some interesting observations made about the drafting of, and reliance on written witness statements in these types of cases. but the Court found that “notwithstanding the difficulties with her evidence which I have mentioned, I thought there was a real ring of verisimilitude in her evidence…”. Excellent!

Creative commons acknowledgement for the photograph.

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