Enmore Spiritualist Church, unfortunately, fell victim to greed and avarice. Patricia Cleary, who had held the role of president for 30 years and treasurer for 25 years had been misappropriating funds. It is believed it started on a small scale, but grew to enormous levels and it reached the point where the church simply couldn’t function normally.
Half of the eight member committee tried in vain to stem the flow of funds, but were thwarted by Pat Cleary and, for reasons unknown, three other committee members.
On 10 September 2009, a meeting of the members was held and Patricia Cleary was removed as president and the committee dissolved. Patricia Cleary and her three ‘friends’ commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW in attempt to have this decision overturned. That motion failed.
The turn of events post the court proceedings are now infamous. Pat Cleary and her three colleagues were the four plaintiffs in the proceedings. The remaining four committee members, one ordinary member and the church itself were named as the six defendants; the church itself being named as the sixth defendant.
Justice Bergin, Chief Judge in Equity, declined to make the Orders the four plaintiffs sought and her Honour made one Order only, that is that each party was to pay their own costs. This, of course, meant that the church, being the sixth defendant, could not pay the costs of the four plaintiffs. How then was the church sued to pay those costs? See below.
Turner Freeman, on 11 September 2009, wrote to a number of individuals and claimed to be acting for Enmore Spiritualist Church (see below graphic).
Turner Freeman’s claim to be acting for the church was disputed by letter on 11 September 2009, telling Turner Freeman that the firm of solicitors who took care of the church’s interests was Boyd House & Partners. It was impossible that Turner Freeman acted for Enmore Spiritualist Church as no committee resolution was made, and for that matter, no committee meeting had been held at all even discussing that eventuality.
Turner Freeman Lawyers obviously acquiesced to this point as in their next letter, dated 24 September 2009, they state that they act for four individuals, i.e. “We act for Reverend Patricia Cleary, Caroline Allen, Matilda Vila and Miranda McCarthy (also known as Mandy Miami)”, (as below).
The church was an unrepresented party, and as you can see from the above letters from Turner Freeman Lawyers, it strongly appears that that law firm did not act for the church in any fashion.
In fact, Terence Goldberg of Turner Freeman Lawyers, in his affidavit of 24 November 2009, states that he acts for the plaintiffs only, and also makes several references to only act for the plaintiffs. Terry Goldberg does not once state in his affidavit that he acts for the sixth defendant.
The main thrust of the proceedings was to invalidate the meeting of 10 September 2009 where the committee was dissolved and where Patricia Cleary lost her role as president.
Justice Bergin, Chief Judge in Equity, who presided over the hearing, declined to make the Orders sought and instead made one Order only, being: Each party is to pay their own costs (see below for a full transcript of the proceedings).
You will see in the narrative of this Application for Assessment of Solicitor/Client Costs that Turner Freeman states that it acted for the church while also making various other claims.
You will notice below that Turner Freeman makes the claim that there are five Defendants. As we have seen from the Summons above, there were six Defendants; Enmore Spiritualist Church being the sixth Defendant.
Turner Freeman makes the claim in the Application for Assessment of Solicitor/Client Costs “On 12/06/09 a committee meeting was held and a resolution passed removing Waters, Terelinck and Hemington as committee members of the Church“, yet on 24 September 2009, Turner Freeman makes a completely contradictory statement:
You will note below that Turner Freeman states that they arranged for personal service on each of the named Defendants, yet this is at odds with an Order of the Court, dated 25 November 2009 where it states “I excuse the plaintiffs from serving the 6th defendant at this stage”.
You will see below that Turner Freeman states “..when final Judgment/Orders were entered providing”. This is totally at odds with the transcript from the proceedings where her Honour makes one Order only.
You will note that Turner Freeman also makes the statements in the said Application:
- each of the five Defendants are to deliver to Turner Freeman books of accounts, keys and any other Church property
- each of the Defendants was permanently restrained from entering the Church premises or taking control of any property
- each of the Defendants was restrained from calling meetings
Turner Freeman specifically states that there are five Defendants in the proceedings, ie: “each of the five Defendants”, “each of the Defendants was permanently restrained”, “each of the Defendants was restrained”.
As stated above, there were six Defendants in proceedings 2009/00291458-001; Enmore Spiritualist Church Incorporated being the sixth Defendant.
You will note that the Application for Assessment of Solicitor/Client Costs does not mention once that Enmore Spiritualist Church was in fact a Defendant.
It also states above that “11. each party is to bear its own costs”. Given that Order, how therefore did the Plaintiffs in the proceedings have their legal costs paid by the sixth Defendant?
As the Order made in the proceedings was that each party was to bear its own costs, it thereby prevented any any Plaintiff from making a financial claim against any Defendant in the same proceedings.
Why therefore did Assessor John Bartos issue a Certificate of Determination against the sixth Defendant which benefited the Plaintiffs?
You will note that the Certificate of Determination is in the amount of $124,661.90 and Turner Freeman subsequently obtained a Judgment Debt against Enmore Spiritualist Church and such was issued on 15 March 2011 (as below).
Despite the Judgment obtained against Enmore Spiritualist Church in the amount of $124,661.90, Turner Freeman subsequently claimed to be owed the sum of $185,802.62.