Lumbers v W Cook Builders Pty Ltd (in liquidation) [2008] HCA 27

High Court of Australia 18 June 2008


Lumbers owned land in South Australia, and engaged W Cook & Sons Pty Ltd (“Sons”) to construct a house on that land. Most of the work required by that oral contract between Sons and Lumbers, was subsequently delegated to W Cook Builders Pty Ltd (“Builders”) as sub-contractors to co-ordinate trades and supervise the construction work., without the knowledge or approval of the Lumbers.

Sons and Lumbers had a dispute, which subsequently resulted in Builders commencing an action in the District Court of South of Australia alleging that Lumbers or alternatively Sons were liable for the outstanding payments due and owing under the contract or alternatively restitution/unjust enrichment. Builders did not succeed in their claim in the District Court and appealed to the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia who upheld Builder’s appeal, with Vanstone J dissenting. Lumbers then appealed to the High Court.


Whether Builders was entitled to claim directly against the Lumbers for work done on Lumbers property?


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