Bank of Queensland Ltd v G.L. and L.A. Collis Pty Ltd [2019] VCC 2062 

The Bank of Queensland Limited sought summary judgment against the defendants for a default of their home loan and mortgage obligations in Bank of Queensland Ltd v G.L. and L.A. Collis Pty Ltd [2019] VCC 2062. The defendants filed numerous documents what purported to be an answer to the plaintiff’s claim, including an “affidavit of defence” by Salvatore Marotta, a Public notice letter from Westpac Bank re: Mortgage securitisation disclosure, a document sent to Bank of Queensland, and subsequently returned several months later, consisting of 2 promissory notes, affidavits of Lesley and Gary Collis, NSW Government Birth Certificate Content Review, an Outline to an Affidavit to the High Court and a statement of Judicial Malfeasance by Brian William Shaw.

The basic argument was that the Bank did not make a loan which constituted valuable consideration, but rather created a credit on its ledger, and therefore they are not in default of the loan facilities, and claim that payment was made by post by promissory note, but there were also a range of other OPCA motifs including securitisation, foisted unilateral contracts, judicial oaths and removal of the Crown arguments. Cosgrave J noted (at 71-72):

“If the hallmarks of good writing are that the text is clear, concise, and comprehensive, then the material filed and relied upon by Collis does not satisfy those criteria. Indeed, much of the documentation is incomprehensible, including, as it does, references to and material about: the relationship between, and the source of authority as between, Collis and his wife as stated in the King James Bible; alleged breaches of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic); the invalidity of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth); the invalidity of the Rules; the conflict of interest faced by the County Court of Victoria in circumstances where it was separated from the court system established by State Parliament due to the creation of Court Services Victoria and/or its association with, or ownership by, foreign financial corporations who are said to be shareholders in BOQ and Liberty Group, the latter of which owns the court building; and the unsuccessful attempt to find a solicitor who had taken the oath of allegiance allegedly required by section 88 of the Imperial Acts Application Act 1922 (Vic).

Collis does not display a disciplined mind or a keen sense of relevance. A number of the documents filed, whether they were purportedly affidavits or submissions, comprised plentiful and repeated assertions and references to matters which were not obviously relevant, frequently not explained, and appeared designed to obscure rather than illuminate. From one perspective, it seemed a fraught task to try and deal with the defendants’ material in a way which assumed, wrongly, that it represented an intelligible and coherent defence to the BOQ’s application.

The more direct approach is to regard the vast bulk of the defendants’ material as legal nonsense. However, while the direct approach is both attractive and probably justified in the circumstances, I shall nonetheless attempt to make sense of the defendants’ case. In doing this, I shall endeavour to address the points made as best as I can understand them”

Cosgrave J attempted to decipher the collection of filings into a series of questions:

  • (a) Has the plaintiff prima facie proved the essential elements of its claims?
  • (b) Did BOQ actually lend money to and take security from the defendants?
  • (c) Did the promissory notes given by Collis discharge the debt owed by the defendants to BOQ?
  • (d) Is the County Court without jurisdiction or biased and unable to hear the case?
  • (e) Is the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) invalid?
  • (f) Does section 78(b) of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) provide a defence?
  • (g) Does the King James Bible provide a defence?
  • (h) Does section 88 of the Imperial Acts Application Act 1922 (Vic) provide a defence?

His Honour briefly addressed each of these issues, noting (at 82) that silence or inactivity cannot change a debtor’s unilateral demand into a contract, and that:

“The courts have dealt before with cases in which parties have purported to create their own promissory notes or bills of exchange and sought to use them to discharge debts owed to a third party. Cases such as Hou v Westpac Banking Corporation Ltd [2015] VSCA 57, ANZ v Evans [2016] NSWSC 1742 and Permanent Custodians Ltd v Sanders [2017] VSC 516 reflect the simplistic and legally ineffective approach which some debtor litigants take with such documents.”

The Bank was granted its summary judgement for $1,112,423.71 together with interest in the sum of $154,825.

The defendants sought leave to appeal this decision in Gary Leonard Collis v Bank Of Queensland Limited (ABN 32 009 656 740) and Ors (according to the attached Schedule) [2021] VSCA 17 with 20 grounds of appeal. 

For unknown reasons, the applicant had joined his three companies and his wife as respondents to the application for summary judgment, and each were self-represented. An application for leave to represent the companies was dismissed by Judge Woodward.  An application for an extension of time within which to appeal from Judge Woodward’s decision was refused by Irving JR on the papers. In a separate application, the Applicant sought leave to appeal from Irving JR’s decision. The application before Judge Woodward had another 12 grounds, and the application from Irving JR’s decision had another 14 grounds, which were also addressed in this judgment.  They contain grounds such as:

“His Honour did err by refusing to read my Claim of Right document which was presented to him at the hearing, which is an entrenched right, and, he did not rebut it, or, give any reason in law why he should not read it. His Honour did err by assuming that by having authority to speak for the private express trust, also means I have authority to overrule the board of trustees, which is not the case.”

Tare JA, Sifris JA, and Macaulay AJA briefly addressed each of the proposed grounds and found that they were unintelligible, misguided, and without merit and legal basis. Leave to appeal was denied. 

The applicant then sought judicial review of the judgment and a stay of the orders of Cosgrave J of the County Court pending the hearing of their application, in Collis v Bank of Queensland Limited [2021] VSC 724, on the grounds that Cosgrave J failed in a duty to assist them as self-represented litigants in understanding court processes, denied Ms Collis and the Companies a fair hearing by refusing leave for him to represent them, and that limitations set on the length of affidavits to be no longer than two pages exclusive of exhibits unduly constrained them in responding to the proceeding and application.

The applicant contended (at 36) that they had not been able to locate a solicitor who would take an oath of allegiance to the Queen that they thought necessary, and that he had already given an oath before God that he would never again hire a barrister or solicitor and he should not be expected to breach his oath.

Matthews AsJ outlined the applicable principles, noting that each ground of review is substantially identical to matters dealt with by the Court of Appeal, and determined the proceeding is one which should be permanently stayed or dismissed pursuant as an abuse of process. 

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