Protest: Apartment owners at the Gazebo complex have cited several building defects. Photo: Jessica Hromas
Octogenarian Syd Fischer, the self-made multimillionaire property developer, has run aground in the Supreme Court over a claim of major building defects at his landmark Gazebo apartment complex.
Renowned for his hotels and his stable of Ragamuffin racing yachts, Mr Fischer has been fighting a court battle with the apartment owners at his Kings Cross complex over $1.3 million in alleged building defects.
The apartment residents claimed the building, near the El Alamein Fountain Park, had several problems, including leaking windows and balconies.
Loses first round: The landmark building was developed by Syd Fischer. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Lawyers for Mr Fischer argued the claim was invalid because it was lodged in November last year, four months before the action gained overwhelming approval at the owners' annual meeting. The owners argued there had been insufficient time to call the meeting before a statutory limitation period on lodging any legal action expired.
On Friday, Justice David Hammerschlag, of the NSW Supreme Court, agreed with the apartment owners and dismissed Mr Fischer's argument with costs. He found the annual meeting ratification occurred ''within a reasonable period of time''.
''The proceedings had barely begun and little could or would have been achieved in the period between the time they were commenced and the time of the resolution, even less so between the time the point was taken and the time of the resolution,'' he said.
''Even in the context of proceedings in this list where parties are expected to act with due dispatch, the passage of time was modest.''
The court decision is the latest in a long battle between Mr Fischer and the owners.
The circular building at Kings Cross was registered in August 2005 for conversion into apartments.
However, for some time after registration of the strata plan, the executive committee, which is responsible for the day-to-day management of the functions of the owners' corporation, was controlled by Mr Fischer's appointees. It remained under his control until 2010.
The new executive committee sought to identify and set about rectifying what they said were various defective building works caused by the original builder, which was also a company owned and controlled by Mr Fischer.
Last year, Mr Fischer wound up the building company.
The owners were left to seek payment to rectify the building defects from his development company.
Beverley Hoskinson-Green, of legal firm Makinson d'Apice lawyers, representing the apartment owners, said the win was ground-breaking for the apartment owners and had set a precedent.
''It allows owners now to take urgent action when needed, which can be later ratified by owners' corporations,'' she said.
Neither Mr Fischer nor his legal representatives were available for comment.
The apartment owners' claim for alleged building defects continues.