Court finds diocese liable for $14 million school debt

The Diocese of Bathurst is liable for repayment of a $14 million loan made to its Anglican Development Fund

The New South Wales Supreme Court has ruled the Diocese of Bathurst is liable for repayment of a $14 million loan made by the Commonwealth Bank to its Anglican Development Fund. The Fund, a corporation under the aegis of the diocese, borrowed to finance construction at the Macquarie Anglican Grammar School and Orange Anglican Grammar School were together advanced more than $28 million. However the fund defaulted on the loans when enrollments at the school did not meet expectations. In his decision Justice David Hammerschlag said: “The schools were overladen with debt, could not sustain themselves, and were incapable of repaying the borrowed monies … such was the parlous position of the schools that some of the loans were described as emergency loans.” On 10 Dec 2015 he noted the only security taken by the bank for the loan was a letter, known as a “letter of comfort” from the the Bishop of Bathurst, the Rt. Rev. Richard Hurford (pictured) undertaking responsibility, on behalf of the diocese, for the loan. The diocese covers about a third of NSW and oversees 34 parishes from the central west to the Queensland border. The diocese in 2013 sold a church school and other properties to repay part of the loan, but last week’s decision obligates it to liquidate the balance. The diocese has not commented on the ruling, but is expected to sell further properties and to launch an appeal to settle the debt.

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