Thousands of televisions are set to be thrown onto the Dick Smith liquidation fire sale in the wake of a bizarre legal case.
The TVs, worth $1.8 million, were stranded at warehouses when the electronics company went under in January.
The dispute started when Dick Smith’s manufacturer, Chinese company Shenzhen MTC, demanded the return of 14 shipping containers filled with TVs because it feared it would not get paid.
But shipping company Toll sent the TVs on to Dick Smith’s cartage contractor. At this point the TVs entered shipping purgatory in bonded warehouses and the court case ensued to decide custody.
The legal drama was resolved in the Federal Court in Sydney on Tuesday, with Toll left exposed to paying damages to MTC. Justice Steven Rares found Dick Smith should get the TVs.
With Ferrier Hodgson saying on February 25 it would close all 301 Australian and 62 New Zealand stores within about eight weeks, it means Dick Smith will have about six weeks to offload the televisions.
Dick Smith started buying electronics from MTC in late 2014 and 17 containers loaded with televisions, some carrying Dick Smith labels, landed at Australian ports in late December 2015.
The court heard that on January 5, the day after Dick Smith collapsed, MTC told Toll to hold delivery of the televisions and help recall the cargo.
But two days later Toll allowed Dick Smith’s cartage and container contractor to collect the shipment and take it to customs bonded warehouses, where 14 containers remained when Toll did not paid the required customs fee.
MTC’s invoiced price for the 14 containers was $US1.3 million ($1.8 million), the court heard.
Toll brought MTC, Dick Smith and its receivers to court in an attempt to settle who should get the goods.
Justice Rares found the MTC was entitled to claim damages from Toll for the loss of the goods, with the value of that to be assessed.
It was revealed on Tuesday that the Dick Smith brand would live on as an online-only retailer owned by e-commerce entrepeneur Ruslan Kogan.