A bank customer has tendered a one dollar “bill of exchange” redeemable at a Mullumbimby café, to delay the lender’s recovery of possession of his home and an outstanding $1 million loan.

In a novel contention, Jan Roskott claims his promise to pay contained in the “bill”, is a sufficient discharge and obliges the CBA to sue for default on that obligation, rather than maintain its proceedings under the mortgage.

Roskott – a US educated artist and performer – had taken out the loan for his Frasers Road residence in May 2006 and kept up his obligations until October 2012 when the first default notice issued.

The home is located on a ridge that commands valley, mountain and ocean views to the east towards Byron Bay and the iconic Byron lighthouse.

The “so called” bill of exchange was typed up at home and included in a text box in the centre, the figure: $1,083,754.89, representing the loan balance.

By delivering it to the bank on 30 January 2014, the self-represented borrower argues he has provided a “promissory note” to the bank and thereby discharged the loan.

Why the instrument was expressed to be “payable at and not elsewhere”, the Poinciana Café” at 55 Station Road Mullumbimby, is not clear from the court judgment.

When a similar “bill of exchange” drawn in almost identical terms, was relied upon by another distressed borrower before the same Supreme Court in 2013, it considered the instrument “plainly worthless”.

Roskott had earlier succeeded in gaining from the Financial Services Ombudsman, a six month reprieve to allow him to recruit a buyer for the home.

When that moratorium expired in January with no offers in the wind, the bank filed recovery proceedings.

The Supreme Court, unsurprisingly, saw no merit in Roskott’s invention and could see no legal defence among his curious contentions.

His defence was struck out and the bank was given leave to proceed to take possession of the home.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia v Roskott [2014] NSWSC 246
view decision


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