The Singaporean owners of The Edge Restaurant and Bar are seeking a new tenant for the hospitality space.
The Singaporean owners of The Edge Restaurant and Bar are seeking a new tenant for the hospitality space. Contributed

Dispute over The Edge restaurant $1m rent to go to trial

THE last occupants of the restaurant at The Edge apartments have been ordered to pay some outstanding rent while waiting for two lawsuit trials to take place in Rockhampton in two months.

Merlot Gordon Pty Ltd was the last company that held the lease for the restaurant along Victoria Parade and is amid two lawsuits with two different parties over past and future rent of nearly $2million.

Following an application hearing in May, Supreme Court Justice Graeme Crow has ordered that Merlot Gordon pay owners Rina Lim Siew Wan and Jordan Neo Beng Chye $128,175.56 for outstanding rent, costs involved in terminating the lease, interest, and court costs.

The hearing in May included an application to the court that proceedings involving Merlot Gordon, The Edge owners and third party Olsen Lawyers be transferred to Brisbane where legal representatives for two of the parties are based. Justice Crow ordered the two lawsuits be listed for trial on October 29 in Rockhampton, with mediation between the three parties to be conducted on or before September 30.

Court documents filed with the Supreme Court in Rockhampton in November show the owners were seeking damages for overdue rent, overdue outgoings, loss of rent for the remaining eight years of the lease, along with other items totalling $1.35million.

In more recent documents filed with court in June, Gordon Merlot admitted future rental loss for Wan and Chye "could be $1,945,321.71” and other "future loss from outgoings could be $100,599.82”. Under the 10-year lease agreement, the owners would lose 50 per cent of the total.

Merlot Gordon Pty Ltd, owned by Mark, Alexander and Aaron Gordon, is suing Olsen Lawyers, which represented Merlot Gordon Pty Ltd when it initially took over the restaurant business and the lease agreement.

Barrister Mark Stunden told the court in May his clients claimed Olsen Lawyers was negligent in failing to advise Merlot Gordon of the full content of the lease agreement.

He said if Olsen Lawyers was found negligent it could be liable to pay some or all of the damages the court may order for the first claim.

Court documents filed by owners Wan and Chye state Rivers Edge Fitzroy Pty Ltd was the registered owner of the land at Unit 1, The Edge Apartments and on January 19, 2016 Rivers Edge, along with I&H Jones Pty Ltd, entered into a written agreement over the whole of the land for 10 years starting on January 29, 2016.

The court documents state Merlot Gordon acquired the business from Jones in February 2016, with the lease assigned to them on March 21, 2017. The terms of the lease, outlined in the court documents, included equal monthly rent instalments in advance.

The lessee provided the lessor with an unconditional bank guarantee or cash deposit of $68,735.33.

A table in the court documents showed during a 15-month period, $262,912.42 rent was payable, with only $102,580.42 paid.

The claim includes outstanding payments by Merlot Gordon for Rockhampton Regional Council rates, Fitzroy River Water fee, body corporate fees and management fees totalling $12,080.70.

The owners took back possession on October 3, 2018, changing the locks and hiring cleaning services for the premises. They now seek damages and costs of at least $972,660.85 and future costs of $50,279.81 with other damages "to be assessed”.

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