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Caernarvon Cherry – employee class action

wage theft

Wage theft has been in the news in recent months with some State governments enacting laws to assist employees who have been the victim of wage theft.   

DCP has been approached by a number of people formerly employed at a company named Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd (possibly better known as Biteriot Cherry’s or Biteriot Apples (recently re-birthed as Biteriot Operations Pty Ltd)) of 474 Canobolas Rd, Orange (Biteriot).

Biteriot is presently being sued in the Federal Circuit Court (case SYG3175) for a case of alleged wage theft and other former employees may also be entitled to receive money?  Caernarvon is defending the case with the assistance of the NSW Farmers Federation. Caernarvon Cherry is operated by its Directors, Bernard and Fiona Hall. Fiona Hall was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship.

DCP Litigation has been asked to assemble a class action to claim allegedly underpaid wages – which is separate from another class action being finalised for allegedly ripped off farmers.

DCP Litigation is an associated company. We will shortly be announcing we have obtained the use of an AFSL in order to lawfully undertake class action and public litigation funding. More information to follow in a separate post.

Below are some articles explaining the serious issue of Wage Theft. Concerningly, Biteriot employed a number of persons convicted of fraud / criminal offences – including its former paymistress – Paula Neill and Accountant Bruce Johnston.

To sign up to the class action as an employee/victim click here: https://share.hsforms.com/1j9KAqztTSoWDhB2KOZx-tg2uveq

To go to our seperate farmer’s class action page click here.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email us on class-actions@dcpartners.solution or live chat with us on this webpage – click in the bottom corner to livechat now.

Regards

Mark Smith, Director

PS.  If you prefer to raise your concerns about underpayment with the company itself, please email its director Fiona Hall on …. info@biteriot.com.au or call the company on (02) 6365 3477.  

Wage theft articles 

  1. Australian Unions article – https://www.australianunions.org.au/wage_theft_factsheet
  2. Victorian Government wage theft announcement – https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-laws-to-crack-down-on-wage-theft/
  3. Redfern Legal Centre blog – https://rlc.org.au/article/short-what-do-if-you-are-experiencing-wage-theft
  4. What to do if you are a victim of wage theft – https://rlc.org.au/article/short-what-do-if-you-are-experiencing-wage-theft
  5. Fairwork Commission video – https://youtu.be/9DdCc2qQeow
  6. ‘Like torture’: Australia’s wage theft epidemic runs deeper than recent headlines – https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/work/2020/02/21/wage-theft-analysis/
  7. Underpaid (English language) – https://rlc.org.au/publication/factsheet-no3-underpaid-work
  8. Underpaid (Chinese language) – https://rlc.org.au/publication/factsheet-no3-underpaid-work-chinese-simple
  9. Paula Neill – Caernarvon pay-mistress profile: https://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/1546606/woman-ordered-to-pay-back-thousands/
  10. Bruce Johnston – Caernarvon accountant profile: https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/4571593/gambler-jailed-after-losing-supreme-court-appeal/
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Bernard Hall – companies in liquidation

Bernard Francis Hall

Company director Bernard Francis Hall has 4 companies now in liquidation.

These companies include:

All 4 companies have DW Advisory as liquidator.

Particulars of the liquidations, including the first report to creditors can be located on DW Advisory’s website here.

Despite having been appointed almost 2 months ago, DW Advisory has not realised 90% by value of the sale of the Bonny Glen partnership properties (according to title searches of 14 November 2019) auctioned in Orange on 24 July 2019.

We understand some of Bernard’s remaining companies continue to rent properties from the liquidator despite having contracts that required them to complete the sales in September 2019 – 2 months ago – still incomplete?  An inspection of the title’s of the subject properties in the hands of the liquidator’s states:

“NO CERTIFICATE OF TITLE HAS ISSUED FOR THE CURRENT EDITION OF THIS FOLIO.  CONTROL OF THE RIGHT TO DEAL IS HELD BY WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION.”  

We further understand there is an allegation that the liquidator has failed to collect 1 or more years rent from Bernard’s lessee company?  Whilst there may be sound business reason for not collecting this rent from Bernard’s company (?), DCP sincerely hope the interests of all creditors (not just interests associated with Bernard Hall) are being protected by DW Advisory in their trusted role as liquidator?  We understand complaints have been made about aspects of the liquidator’s conduct to date to bodies including ASIC and other regulators?

Below is a partial overview of the Hall families business structure.

Hall family tree of businesses
Hall family tree of businesses

 

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

 

Correct as at 14 November 2019.

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Fiona Hall (packing her bags) – profile

Fiona Hall packing her bags

How does someone become a Nuffield Scholar?

… Get your bestie to write the application?  Well that was Fiona Hall’s idea.

First, in mid 2014 she enquired with me whether I’d write the application for her (I didn’t and I am not her bestie).

Shortly thereafter the application was written by Mr Andrew Borrodell Gartrell (at the time a friend), the rest is history.  To see Fiona’s email to me click here, to see Fiona’s email to Gartrell click here.

Fiona, wife of Bernard, is not a director of any of the Bonny Glen companies and held no direct financial interest in those properties.

Fiona however is a joint shareholder and director of Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd and other related companies.

As at 8 November 2019, she does not own any direct interest in the Caernarvon homestead, Caernarvon orchard or Caernarvon shed.

Below is parts of the Hall’s family business structure and landholdings.

Hall family tree of businesses
Hall family tree of businesses

Below is Fiona’s speech at the Nuffield Australia National Conference 2016 via Youtube.

Here Fiona ‘champions’ access for growers to data.

It will be interesting to see Fiona’s approach and response to subpoenas – should they be issued – in the proposed class action by cherry growers.

Another video interview by Fiona discussing the need for farm profitability.  Caernarvon is well known as having delivered ‘bills’ to fruit growers who sent their fruit to Caernarvon to be packed and sold, i.e. the net return to the grower was negative after deducting Caernarvon’s packing and marketing costs and the fruit ‘sold’.  It is unclear whether Caernarvon has at all times complied with the Horticultural Code of Conduct?

If you have any comments or information about Bernard & Fiona Hall, we’d love to hear from you including any documents via the instant chats below, through the below form or by phone on 1300-327123.

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

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DCPLH v Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd – potential growers class action

Biteroit - Caernarvon Cherry

DCP Litigation Holdings is inviting expressions of interest from potential class action claimants against Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd ACN 111 047 191 (“Caernarvon“).

Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd is a fruit packing operator located at 474 Canobolas Rd, Orange NSW 2800 and predominantly packs Cherries and Apples under the Biteriot brand for Woolworths, Harris Farm and numerous export supermarket chains.

DCP Litigation Holdings is the assignee of the claims of a number of fruit growers from around the Nashdale, Mudgee and Orange / Mt. Canobolas fruit-growing regions.

What is a class action?

A class action is a permitted court action involving 7 or more claimants with substantially similar claims against the same defendant or defendant/s.

What’s the class action about?

We will be arguing, amongst other things, that:

  1. Caernarvon breached the Horticultural Code of Conduct which is a mandatory code within the fruit packing and wholesale sector ;
  2. Caernarvon provided misleading and deceptive fruit packing statistics and materially underpaid our assignees – causing loss ;
  3. In addition, Caernarvon overcharged our assignees for packing services, fruit picking services, packaging, transport, fruit handling, storage and /or otherwise.  In some cases, we have seen evidence where, Caernarvon charged our assignee grower up to almost 400 hours of labour in one summer season for the provision of a “person” / alleged staff member – this ‘person’ having no date of birth, no bank account, no tax file number, no superannuation membership, and no address … (the person actually is alleged to reside at the same address as Caernarvon, 474 Canobolas Rd – together with approximately 100 other alleged staff members) ;
  4. Moreover, Caernarvon at the time of the apparent overcharging of our grower assignee, also charged our grower assignee for the services of a “pay mistress”, Ms. Paula Neill formerly of Landseer St, RaglanAround the same time, Ms. Neill pleaded guilty to stealing the sum of $44,864.56 from a local charity known BINC ;
  5. Caernarvon failed to conduct its fruit growing operations in a workmanlike manner.

And in the process, Caernarvon caused our assignee loss and/or damage.

To be clear, we do not accuse Ms. Paula Neil of any criminal offence, however we do say that Caernarvon itself, with some 900 persons on its payroll did engage in misleading and deceptive conduct causing loss to our assignee, and we believe it is highly likely that a number of other fruit growers from the Orange and nearby locality also suffered loss (we have spoken to many).

Moreover, we say that the assignee is entitled to query the veracity of various expenses, which they have, and about which questions still remain outstanding (Caernarvon refusing or neglecting to account or answer questions).

DCP Litigation Holdings are inviting expressions of interest from other growers and suppliers to Caernarvon Cherry, to discuss the claims with potential class action fruit growers and claimants, who have had a similar detrimental financial experience with Caernarvon.  It will be our proposal to fund all litigation costs of all fruit growers accepted against Caernarvon and to share in any settlement payment or judgment of a relevant court.

How big does my claim have to be?

 
A class-action is ideally suited to large or small growers.
 
The size of the claim is not important.
 
The important aspects of the claim is that they are substantially similar to the what we say above that we will be arguing, i.e. they generally involve the supply of fruit from a grower to Caernarvon and some disagreement about entitlements to money (big or small).
 
The other important factor is that the defendant must be Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd of Orange, NSW.
 
 

How fruit growers can get involved?

 
Regardless of how big or small your claim may be, interested parties are asked to complete the below form to express interest.  Once we receive your enquiry we will email you also our class-action FAQ’s.
 
 

CCC class action

join
 
 
 
If you have any comments or information about Bernard & Fiona Hall, we’d love to hear from you including any documents via the instant chats below, through the below form or by phone on 1300-327123.
 

To contact us with any tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below: