14 March 2017

Parents Beware the Sponging Kids

Charlie Young
Charlie Young Litigation Lawyer

He’s the son who sponged $280,000 off his aged Brisbane parents to prop up his struggling business then refused to pay it back.

What’s worse is when his parents took him to court they lost their case because they couldn’t prove they had legally enforceable loan agreements with him.

The story of Murray Berghan exploiting his parents played out in Queensland media this week and Bennett & Philp Lawyers elder abuse lawyer, Charlie Young says there’s a lesson here for anyone lending to family or friends.

“Make sure any loans are subject to a binding legal agreement, no matter who you’re lending to.”

Murray Berghan, 45, reportedly claimed the various loans he sought from his parents  Barry and Lorraine Berghan between 2009 and 2013 were all “gifts’’ to his Brisbane advertising agency business, Make Communications.

In total he sponged more than $280,000 in various loans to bolster his business, then when his parents prompted him to repay the money, he baulked.

So, mum and dad- she’s 71 and he’s 79 with cancer- took their son to the District Court with a breach of loan agreement claim against their son for $286,471  – and lost.

Media reports quoted Judge William Everson saying: “(Murray Berghan) cynically abused their generosity and shamelessly sponged on them when he found himself in dire financial circumstances.’’

But he said even if Murray said each time that he would pay them back in full, it indicated a moral obligation and not a binding loan agreement.

Charlie Young says loans to family or friends can be the hardest to recover unless there’s a formal legal agreement.

Read more about the case here.



Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).

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