Tue. May 28th, 2024

Bruce Lehrmann given time extension to consider defamation ruling appeal

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May17,2024
Bruce Lehrmann will likely have to pay at least some of Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson’s legal costs, as the former Liberal staffer weighs whether to appeal his unsuccessful defamation suit against them.
Lehrmann’s barrister David Helvadjian has requested further time in which an appeal notice must be delivered, on the basis fresh legal counsel were reviewing the likelihood of such an appeal succeeding.
Justice Michael Lee on Wednesday granted the motion, which was uncontested by the opposing parties, giving Lehrmann until 31 May.
During the Federal Court hearing, Lee reiterated his view the proceedings initiated by Lehrmann, over allegations aired by Ten that he raped in Parliament House, were unfounded.
Lisa Wilkinson outside court surrounded by media and supporters, with microphones in front of her.

Ten and Wilkinson separately retained some of the nation’s most highly sought-after legal representation, which could skyrocket Lehrmann’s liability for repaying their costs into the millions of dollars. Source: AAP / Bianca de Marchi

The 28-year-old lost the case after Lee found, on the balance of probabilities, Lehrmann did in fact rape Higgins and later lied about it repeatedly, including throughout the defamation proceedings.

“I’ve made findings about the conduct of the applicant and the conduct litigation being disgraceful, that’s a given,” Lee said.

In reserving his ruling on costs to a later date, he flagged to Ten’s counsel Matthew Collins KC an order would be made in favour of his client.

Ten and Wilkinson separately retained some of the nation’s most highly sought-after legal representation, which could skyrocket Lehrmann’s liability for repaying their costs into the millions of dollars.
In accordance with an earlier court ruling, Ten will be liable for the cost of Wilkinson retaining her own legal representation, which it can also seek to claim from Lehrmann as a legal expense.

However, Lee took issue with a range of conduct by Ten and its lawyers including statements made by Justin Quill in the immediate aftermath of the ruling.

He described comments by Quill including that the Network had been “vindicated” in airing the claims as discourteous and somewhat misleading.
Quill told media gathered outside the hearing the way defamation trials pick apart journalists’ work is “divorced from reality”.
“I made it perfectly plain that what occurred in this case was that the respondents fell well short of a standard of reasonableness in the credulous way they went about reporting these allegations,” Lee said.
Among the issues Lee raised were repeated assertions Brittany Higgins had been left to cope without support by her and chief-of-staff Fiona Brown and equating their termination of Lehrmann’s job with “protecting a paedophile”.
A female lawyer wearing a robe walking next to a man in a suit.

Sue Chrysanthou (left) represented Lisa Wilkinson in the defamation case. Source: AAP / Bianca de Marchi

“Ms Wilkinson in some respects went even further repeating an allegation that Ms Brown and Senator Reynolds were active participants in a systemic cover-up of alleged criminal conduct,” Lee said.

Also seeking to have his legal costs paid was ex-Seven producer Taylor Auerbach, who appeared as a witness at the defamation hearing with claims he saw Lehrmann buying cocaine and ordering sex workers.
Auerbach submitted his legal costs for complying with the court’s subpoena to produce and give evidence were close to $60,000.
Lee described the terms of the claim as “not on”.
“People that get a subpoena shouldn’t assume that they’re entitled to legal costs,” he said.
A man in a suit walking through a crowd of people outside court

Former Seven network Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach appeared as a witness at the defamation hearing with claims he saw Lehrmann buying cocaine and ordering sex workers. Source: AAP / Dean Lewins

In submissions on costs made public last week, Ten’s lawyers described Lehrmann pursuing the claim as “deliberately wicked and calculated”.

“Mr Lehrmann engaged in an abuse of the court’s processes, ran a case based on positive falsities, and put Network Ten to the cost of defending a baseless proceeding,” Collins wrote.
Helvadjian said his client acted reasonably in bringing the lawsuit to vindicate his reputation, despite the result.
“(The) allegation was of serious criminal conduct, the allegation had not been established in any criminal proceedings, the respondents bore the onus of proof, and (Lehrmann) disputed the truth of the allegation,” he wrote.
Lee said his decision on costs would be “relatively prompt”.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, text 0458 737 732, or visit . In an emergency, call 000.
Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Bruce Lehrmann given time extension to consider defamation ruling appeal”
  1. I believe Lehrmann should accept the court’s decision and take responsibility for the consequences of his actions. It’s clear that the defamation suit was baseless, and it is only fair that he covers the legal costs incurred by Ten and Wilkinson. Justice must prevail.

  2. It’s disgraceful how Lehrmann continues to drag out this legal battle. Justice Lee’s findings clearly show the gravity of his actions, and he should own up to the consequences. The longer this goes on, the more it damages his reputation and credibility.

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