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Court in the Act
1 December, 2006  
More burning issues in BAT case

Who gave Slater & Gordon the dirt file on Clutz and the Batty Boys? Slater & Gordon ordered to name its sources and name everyone with whom it has shared the delicious information

imageLaw shop Slater & Gordon has been ordered to name the person or persons who gave them confidential documents relating to BAT and Clayton Utz’s conduct of the Rolah McCabe case.

The firm also has been ordered to identify to whom the documents have been disclosed.

In the NSW Supreme Court today (Dec. 1) Justice Paul Brereton ruled that the information in question was plainly relevant and, “important to enable the plaintiff to frame its case with precision”.

The firm and its principal Peter Gordon are under siege from interlocutory injunctions granted on behalf of two Batty companies, BAT Australia Services and BAT Australia Ltd, followed closely by a barrage of notices to produce.

Slater & Gordon also has been ordered to produce documents in several forms including the confidential documents that are the subject of the injunction proceedings.

As well, Slater & Gordon must produce any reproductions or derivatives of those documents and any documents relating to the use made of the confidential material, the circumstances in which they were received and any discussions or communications the they have had with any third party in reference to them.

Three Victorian barristers who have seen the confidential Clutz-Batty documents have been identified and have given undertakings of confidentiality.

The Batty companies are now after the names of everyone else who might have seen the smelly documents, including the Victoria police and the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner.

imageSlater & Gordon must comply by next Thursday (Dec. 7) when Brereton will also hear argument about a summons issued by BATAS against the law shop.

Today Guy Reynolds, for BATAS, wanted the terms broadened.

“We need to know who’s been given access to the confidential information even if it’s not in documentary form and even if they were not given a copy of the documents.”

Jeremy Stolgar, for the defendants, pointed out that “theoretically” at least, there are public repositories in the US and the UK that may contain the same information contained in the confidential documents that are the subject of proceedings here.

Both BATAS and BATAL have settled the injunction proceedings with Fairfax and Age newspapers. However, a costs dispute with BATAL, which is asking for a stupendous amount of money, is still hotly afoot. Fairfax is making an application under the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules for the judge to look at the costs.

It appears that the settlement will allow Fairfax and Age newspapers to publish about 90 percent of what is in the main Clutz draft document dealing with its investigation into its lawyers who the defence in the McCabe case.

The Sunday Age has already published that the inquiry put former partners Richard Travers and Glenn Eggleton in the frame for their conduct in the case. The Sunday Age said the report alleged that they had engaged in serious professional misconduct, including giving “potentially perjurious” evidence in the McCabe case.

Other material, dealing with Clutz’s former managing partner Brian Wilson and with Mallesons’ conduct of the earlier Cremona case, is unlikely to be published.

The alleged “iniquity” was at the heart of what Justice Geoffrey Eames found to have been a deliberate policy of document destruction by the defendants in the McCabe case. He struck out their defence, but the Victorian Court of Appeal overturned his decision.

Fairfax and Age newspapers were unwilling to fight in what, to all intents and purposes, would be an extended investigation into the findings of Justice Eames and of the Court of Appeal.

Let’s hope S & G prevails in this struggle so we can all share more of the filthy secrets of the cancer stick manufacturers.

See Justinian’s previous report.


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