West Melbourne fresh produce traders win lease signing injunction until June 18

Victoria’s Supreme Court has awarded an interim injunction to Melbourne wholesale fruit and vegetable stallholders preventing the Melbourne Market Authority from forcing them to sign new leases at the new market being built at Epping by May 31.

An interim injunction has been awarded until June 18.

It prevents traders having their stall allocations stripped and orders that the two parties seek a mediated solution, reported The Australian Financial Review.

It follows The Melbourne Market Authority preparing to relocate the Footscray Road market to a new site in Cooper Street, Epping but with tenants facing rents almost double what they are currently paying.

Prior to the interim injunction, the Melbourne Market Authority required that traders sign new leases by May 31 or risk losing their stall allocation when the leases go to national tender in June.

Supreme Court judge Peter Vickery in his judgement said the authority “has placed the stallholders in an invidious position where they cannot make a rational commercial decision between the two choices on offer”.

The tenants, represented by Nunzio Lucarelli QC, accused the Melbourne Market Authority of “unconscionable conduct” under consumer law by pressuring them to sign at much higher rents, The Australian Financial Review reported.

They told Justice Peter Vickery rents will rise from $273 per square metre annually to $478 per square metre annually and tenants who also require warehouse space are being asked to sign leases without knowing the details of the storage space.

But the MMA, represented by Michael Wyles SC, said the dispute was not open for the court to decide as the market was implementing government policy.

He said even a short injunction could delay the market opening until 2015.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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