HELLER FINANCIAL SERVICES LTD V THIESS CONTRACTORS PTY LTD  FCA 802
Federal Court of Australia – 16 June 2000
Thiess was the head contractor on three separate contracts and engaged KF Air as a subcontractor for each contract. Thiess allegedly owed money to KF Air for progress claims and retention monies. KF Air had assigned its book debts to Heller and Heller had given notice to Thiess of the assignment of the debts. KF Air went into receivership and then liquidation and the debts allegedly owed by Thiess to KF Air remained unpaid.
Heller issued legal proceedings against Thiess seeking payment of the outstanding debts. Heller also claimed that Thiess had breached a duty of care owed to Heller and had also engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in breach of section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
The subcontracts between Thiess and KF Air included an arbitration clause and Thiess applied for a stay of the court proceeding on the basis that the dispute should be referred to arbitration.
Was Heller bound by the arbitration clause in the contracts between Thiess and KF Air?
Should the Court stay the legal proceedings?