Over the course of 14 months, Harry Kakavas lost AUS$20.5
million at the baccarat table of a casino operated by Crown
Melbourne Ltd. Kakavas contended that he was a known problem
gambler and that Crown had incited him to play deeply through
various incentives such as rebates on losses and offers to fly on
the casino's private jet. Because Crown had exploited his
pathological urge to gamble, Kakavas contended, it would be
unconscionable to enforce its claim for the $20.5 million that he
owed. A further 'special disadvantage' which the casino was
alleged to have exploited was the fact that Kakavas was subject to
an Australian interstate exclusion order (IEO), which required
Crown to pay any of his winnings to the government of the State of
Victoria; had he known the effect of the order, he argued, he would
never have gambled at all.
The case made its way to the High Court of Australia, which
identified the basis of the claim as 'a species of equitable
fraud', where one party is alleged to have taken
'surreptitious advantage of the weakness or necessity of
another': Kakavas v Crown Melbourne Ltd,  HCA
25. Such cases require scrutiny of the precise relationship of the
parties and all the facts in order for the court to make equitable
intervention. This will not occur merely because one party has
suffered loss, hardship or even unfairness, or has made an
improvident transaction: the plaintiff needs to show that the
defendant's conduct warrants the court's action.
Kakavas's claim that Crown had preyed on his personality flaws
to entice him to gamble failed at trial; the Victoria appellate
On further appeal, Kakavas's focus shifted to
'Crown's acceptance of the benefit of [his] improvident
activities at the gaming table'. This also failed, essentially
because it was an overly bold attempt to make Crown, which was
conducting its ordinary business, responsible for Kakavas's own
'wish to engage in risky business'. This was not a case of
a casino enticing a widow to cash her pension cheque and fritter
away the proceeds, or to take advantage of someone who is
'evidently intoxicated, or adolescent, or senescent, or simply
incompetent' (nicely phrased, that). The evidence showed that
Kakavas could and did choose when to gamble and when not to. And
his propensity to gamble was not something that really singled him
out as being at a special disadvantage by reason his alleged
relationship with Crown: in the end he was just another punter, if
an over-enthusiastic one, and one not 'incapable of making
worthwhile decisions in his own interests so far as gambling ...
was concerned.' There was no particular reason for Crown or its
employees to treat him as vulnerable. The IEO point failed too:
there was no evidence that Crown's employee were aware that
Kakavas did not appreciate the effect of the order.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
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