Buyers of Gold Coast’s Oracle not allowed to escape contracts over name change

The buyers of units in Gold Coast’s troubled high-rise development Oracle have been knocked back in their second bid to escape contracts.

They had been trying to exit their contracts with South Sky Investments Ltd to buy the units, arguing that the change of letting managers and name of the development constituted a breach of contract.

The appeal by six buyers against a previous ruling in the Supreme Court was dismissed by Court of Appeal Justice Margaret McMurdo.

They originally purchased units in Tower 1 of the Oracle development but before settlement, Peppers Retreat, Resorts and Hotels was given letting rights to the tower and tower was to be renamed Peppers Broadbeach.

Supreme Court Justice John Muir said there was no evidence that the value of an apartment would fluctuate any more if the letting business was conducted by Peppers as opposed to any other manager.

The six buyers argued “the change from ‘The Oracle’ to ‘Peppers Broadbeach’ denotes a change from an independently recognisable (‘branded’) apartment tower to a hotel/resort in a chain of hotel/resorts,” McMurdo wrote in her ruling.

“There was no suggestion in the evidence … that The Oracle was a name which carried with it any particular attraction for purchasers or that the failure to use it exclusively or predominantly to identify Tower 1 would result in any detriment to the appellants.

“The mere fact that a development is given a name and that name is used in promotional and contractual documentation says little, if anything, about whether there is to be found in the contract an implied promise that the name will be used in respect of the completed building.”

Sales in the $700 million development have picked up recently, led by interest from local buyers. Gold Coast residents have bought $20 million worth of the 505 apartments.

The development has been in the hands of receivers KordaMentha since December 2010 after the Nikiforides family's Niecon business ran into trouble when a financier withdrew from the project.

The appeal was dismissed with the appellants paying all costs.

The appellants were John Maclain Gough and Norma Patricia Groves; Derick Brisley and Debbie Brisley; Jeffrey Aiden Wicks and Julie Kathryn Wicks; Patricia Gaye Ryan; Vicki Anne Taylor and Jennifer May Ferguson; and John Clifton Parsons and Dorothy Anne Parsons.

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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