AHEPA NSW Inc victory short lived as Court of Appeal overturns decision

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On Wednesday 26 August 2020 the Order of AHEPA NSW Inc (AHEPA) was dealt a blow when the NSW Court of Appeal, comprising three Judges, overturned an earlier decision of a Judge of the Supreme Court and held that a resolution passed by members of AHEPA in relation to a development proposal was invalid.  

The proceedings arose as a result of a resolution passed in February 2019 by a majority of members of AHEPA That resolution allowed AHEPA to develop and enter into a 21 year lease in respect of the Bexley [   ].   

The validity of the resolution was challenged by certain members of AHEPA NSW and on 3 October 2019 Justice Rees of the Supreme Court of New South Wales rejected the member’s challenge to the validity of the resolution. 

The members then appealed the decision of Justice Rees arguing before the Court of Appeal. The members argued that the resolution was invalid because a number of members that voted in favour of it were not in actual fact members that were entitled to vote as the correct procedure for becoming a member of AHEPA had not been followed.  

The Court of Appeal agreed with the members’ arguments and held that 127 people that voted on the resolution were not valid members and therefore were not entitled to vote. Since the resolution passed by only 13 votes, the Court of Appeal stated that the outcome of the vote could very well have been different and having established that those 127 people were not entitled to vote, held that the February 2019 resolution was also invalidly adopted.

The press release issued by Mr George Lianos from The Order of AHEPA NSW (Members), who won the appeal, states:

Proposed plans for Bexley Bowling Club now in question

An underlying issue that has increased the tension and motivation surrounding these legal proceedings, is the financial plans of AHEPA NSW INC Committee of Management. The Committee were determined to develop a Hellenic Cultural Centre on a plot of land in Bexley owned by Bayside Council.

Although the ‘Members’ claim they are in full support of building a cultural centre, they believe the proposed plans for Bexley Bowling Club resembles more to a functions hall rather than a venue to promote the Hellenic culture and attract the youth. Concerning for the members is also the logic behind investing in a property that the organisation does not and will not own.

Another reason of concern for the ‘Members’, is the financial management of AHEPA NSW INC, particularly regarding the cost of legal fees that have been accrued over the years, estimated at around $2 million and the fact that pursuing the Bexley Bowling Club project will mean selling the properties AHEPA NSW INC already owns in Rockdale and Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

The ‘Committee of Management’ acknowledge these issues but they go on to believe that they need to give something back to the community after wasting so much of AHEPA’s money on legal fees. Also, they do note that from a business standpoint, while the Elizabeth Street property is bringing in a hefty income, Rockdale is not.

The ‘Committee of Management’ also seem to be certain that Bayside Council will support their community investment into a popular Hellenic area, which will assure them a greater reward from the council in the future. 

Under the proposed plans, the construction of Bexley Bowling Club consists of 3 function rooms, a bar, sporting activities and a community hall next door.

“Further minor rulings will be decided within the next two weeks. We hope that this decision will stop this particular group of schismatic individuals creating further problems within AHEPA,” reads the statement issued by Mr George Lianos.

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