The Supreme Court of New South Wales handed down its judgment today in legal proceedings commenced, with the knowledge and consent of the Holy Assembly of Bishops and the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, by His Grace Bishop Irinej and the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand against the Free Serbian Orthodox Diocese for Australia and New Zealand Property Trust Limited and its directors for breaches of a charitable trust relating to the St Sava Monastery New Kalenich located in Wallaroo, New South Wales.
By way of summary, the Court found as follows:
1. The Property Trust’s rejection of Bishop Irinej’s authority to supervise the Monastery, its exclusion of him and of persons authorised by him to conduct services and the allowing of Dragan Saracevic to conduct services were breaches of the trust upon which the Monastery is held;
2. The Free ANZ Diocese’s affiliation with the Greek Old Calendarists, and the appointment of Bishop Ambrose as ‘bishop’ of the Free ANZ Diocese, was not consistent with the spirit of that trust;
3. The Property Trust be removed as trustee and the Metropolitanate’s nominee be appointed as trustee in its place;
4. The Defendants transfer title of the Monastery to the Metropolitanate’s nominee; and
5. The Monastery is to be held by the Metropolitanate on trust for its purposes and for the use by those individuals and organisation that are a part of the Free ANZ Diocese.
His Honour Justice White has issued draft orders to give effect to his reasons. The matter is to come before the Court again in the near future for the finalisation of those orders and on the question of legal costs.
The Metropolitanate welcomes this important decision of the Supreme Court of New South Wales which vindicates the commencement of these proceedings and will hopefully delivers peace and stability to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Australia.
The Metropolitanate will be making no further comment at this time. A complete copy of the Court’s judgment can be found at: https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/55641476e4b06e6e9f0f5d65
Metropolitanate Executive Board