In E Pty Ltd and Ors & Zunino and Anor  FamCAFC 216 (1 September 2020) the Full Court (Ainslie-Wallace, Ryan & Tree JJ) heard a case where a wife had named three companies as respondents, of which the husband was a former director.
The wife sought declarations that each entity held real estate on trust for her; each company having sought orders for disjoinder.
The Full Court said (from ):
“The [corporate] appellants carefully established that although the husband had been a director of the entities … he had never had explicit legal title to the entities. Senior counsel for the wife … explained that … the husband was the controlling mind and the entities his alter ego … To this end, the wife pointed to a raft of ‘uncommercial’ transactions and what she said were the spouse party’s more or less exclusive use of the subject properties. (…)
 In deciding against the appellants, the primary judge took into account the circumstantial nature of the wife’s case … [I]t is tolerably clear that his Honour thought … the wife’s case appeared weak … but … he was not satisfied that she had no reasonable likelihood of establishing that the husband exercises effective control over the entities as his alter ego (…)
 We … agree with the primary judge that as the appellants ‘may’ be directly affected by the wife’s case raised against them … they are necessary parties (r6.02) … Plainly … the appellants ‘may’ be deprived of their beneficial ownership of valuable property…
 His Honour’s decision to reject the appellants’ application to be removed as parties was correct… ”
Robert Glade-Wright is the founder and senior editor of The Family Law Book, a one-volume loose-leaf and online family law service (thefamilylawbook.com.au). He is assisted by Queensland lawyer Craig Nicol, who is a QLS Accredited Specialist (family law).