WA Gave Property to Someone Allegedly Broke - Get It Back?

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18 November 2014
If I gave someone property (household items) after they have said they are broke and then find out they are actually financially secure with owning 2 houses outright, also have paid for accommodation which they said would pay half. Where do I stand under property law in getting my property back and monies owed to me?


Dear Sharon,

In principal, the law provides for such circumstances with the tort of deceit. This occurs when a person makes a factual misrepresentation, knowing that it is false (or having no belief in its truth and being reckless as to whether it is true) and intending it to be relied on by the recipient, and the recipient acts to his or her detriment in reliance on it. The leading cases in Australia on this matter are Derry v Peek and Krakowski v Eurolynx Properties. In order to establish a case you need to prove that:

(1) there was a representation to you by words or acts;
(2) the representation was made by the other person knowledge both that the representation was false and would be acted upon by you; and
(3) you have suffered damage as a result.

You will need to provide cogent evidence to a court of these 3 elements including the knowledge and intention of the defendants to gain something from you through deceit.

Whilst you may be able to bring an action against these people on this basis, whether or not you can provide evidence sufficient to prove the necessary elements, and whether the expense of instituting court proceedings would exceed the value of the furniture you would recover is a different matter. In my opinion it is not worth pursuing. Learn from your mistakes and don't (unfortunately) don't be so trusting next time.