Suncorp Metway Ltd v Siulangapo Inc  QSC 16
The Queensland Supreme Court recently found that service of an originating application to a PO Box address was sufficient.
Suncorp sought the removal of a caveat. The address for service nominated by the caveator (as required by s 121(2)(b) of the Land Titles Act) was a PO Box address.
Pursuant to s 131(1) of the Land Titles Act 1994 (Qld) (Act), a notice to a caveator is sufficiently served if sent to the address mentioned in s 121(2)(b) of Act. However, this did not mean that service of the Originating Application was effected as required by the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld) (UCPR).
Reference was made to Rule 107 of the UCPR and s 109X(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). However, the difficulty was that company searches of the alleged caveator both in Australia and the United States revealed no such registered entity.
The mobile number was also disconnected.
Justice Brown found that service had not been effected as required under the UCPR. However, her Honour agreed that Suncorp had tried to effect service in the only way that was possible, at :
“It is difficult to see what other options were available to the applicant to effect service. It may have sought an order for substituted service given it was impracticable to serve the caveator (the respondent) at a registered address. In that event, it would appear that sending the papers to the address nominated in the caveat [a PO Box address] would have been an obvious means by which the application could be brought to the respondent’s attention.”
Suncorp succeeded both in establishing service and in removing the caveat.
Incidentally the caveat was removed because it did not appear that the caveator held a caveatable interest. For starters, the name of the caveator was different to the name on the contract on which the alleged caveat relied.
The caveator did not make an appearance at the hearing of the application. It remains to be seen whether the true caveator will emerge.
It is not generally recommended that proceedings be served on a PO Box. If there is no other option, an application for substituted service should be made prior. But in urgent cases, the applicant will have no choice but to serve on a PO Box and later argue that the Application was sufficiently served. This decision will assist those applicants.
To read the full judgement, follow this link – http://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2017/QSC17-016.pdf
Legislation and catchwords
- Service on a PO Box
- Caveat and caveatable interest
- s 127 of the Land Titles Act 1994 (Qld)
- Rule 107 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld)
- s 109X(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)