How email cost company $1.62 million

THE company hired to market a giant development in the Gold Coast's north has lost a court battle to get the developer to cough up what they claimed was $1.6 million in unpaid fees.

Marketing company Calmmonth took AVJennings Properties to court over alleged unpaid fees relating to the Big Sky estate development in Coomera. AVJennings claimed that changes were made to an agreement meaning they did not owe the company $1.62 million in fees.

Calmmonth claimed changes were never made despite an employee email in August 2015 detailing them.

The Supreme Court of Brisbane on Friday ruled changes had been made.

It means Calmmonth will not receive the fee they had claimed and will have to pay AVJennings' legal fees.

The Big Sky estate is a more than 300-home estate in Coomera which had been planned by DriftSail, owned by Graeme Ingles.

When the Global Financial Crisis hit, Driftsail's financiers required the company to undertake Big Sky with a joint venture partner and AV Jennings came on board.

Calmmonth, also owned by Mr Ingles, was brought on as a consultant to do marketing for the project in November 2018 on the provision they get a small percentage of profits from sales.

In June 2011 the consultancy agreement was changed, reducing the amount Calmmonth would receive after AVJennings revised figures found that construction costs would be higher.

In early 2012, Calmmonth was informed the development was being redesigned to "create more traditional allotments which can be sold without the need for prescriptive designs imposed by the planning schemes".

A meeting was had in August 2015 where the two companies discussed new terms of the agreement due to changes in lot sizes.

Calmmonth sent an email the day after the meeting to confirm the changes but AVJennings did not respond as the person dealing with the matter had other pressing issues and was in an accident where he broke his pelvis.

In court Mr Ingles claimed there had been no agreement in the meeting in August 2015, despite an email sent by an employee seeking confirmation of the changes.

Judge Peter Applegarth said: "It is compelling evidence an agreement was reached at the meeting."

Judge Applegarth concluded there was an agreement made at the meeting.

"The fact of the agreement is proven by what was said at the meeting and the parties' words and conduct shortly after it," he said.

He ordered Calmmonth pay AVJennings' legal costs.

lea.emery@news.com.au

Originally published as How email cost company $1.62 million


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