Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond has been awarded nearly $5 million in damages from a Sydney law firm whose advice got him into tax trouble.
Gadens Lawyers Sydney has been ordered to pay Mr Symond over $4.9 million after the NSW Supreme Court found it was negligent and acted in breach of contract when it gave him advice on how to restructure his business.
Mr Symond launched legal action against the law firm after he was forced to pay a "substantial amount" of tax, penalties and interest to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) following an audit of his affairs in 2007.
One part of the advice centred on how he could borrow funds from Aussie Home Loans to complete the construction of his multi-million dollar home in the eastern Sydney harbourside suburb, Point Piper.
Mr Symond contended Gadens should have given him advice on the availability of other means of structuring his affairs and those of Aussie Home Loans, when it came to borrowing money to complete his home.
Mr Symond told the court that he had a meeting with Gadens in late 2002 or early 2003 in which he said that any restructure had to be "100 per cent compliant with the tax regulations".
"The last thing I want is for the media or the public to think I'm some kind of tax cheat," Mr Symond reportedly said.
Gadens submitted Mr Symond made a permanent saving of $10 million in pursuing the business structure it proposed and, as this outweighed the liabilities he incurred, he suffered no loss as a result.
This was rejected by Justice Robert Beech-Jones in a judgment handed down last July.
Ruling on damages in the Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Beech-Jones ordered Gadens to pay Mr Symond $4.97 million.The issue of legal costs has yet to be determined.