A legal challenge that saw Christian Porter’s lawyer withdrawn from his libel case against the CBA could cost him and his former lawyer as much as half a million dollars.
- Mr Porter’s libel case against ABC has been settled this year, but there have been no payments
- During the case, there was a legal challenge against Mr Porter’s lawyer, Sue Chrysanthou
- The Federal Court heard today that the costs of this challenge could total half a million dollars
The former attorney general took action against the CBA over a story about an anonymous cabinet minister accused of alleged historic sexual assault.
Mr Porter was later revealed to be the subject of the allegations, but denied any wrongdoing.
The case was eventually settled although there was no payment and the ABC story remained online with an editor’s note.
The editor’s note stated that the CBA did not intend to suggest that Mr. Porter committed the alleged violation.
“However, both sides admit that some readers misinterpreted the article as a charge of guilt against Mr. Porter,” the note said.
“This reading, which was not foreseen by the ABC, is regretted.”
Today, attorneys for Mr Porter and his former lawyer Sue Chrysanthou were back in Federal Court to challenge costs in the second case, where it was revealed the couple could be forced to fork out half a million. of dollars.
Costly legal challenge against Mr Porter’s lawyer
Ms Chrysanthou was barred from acting for Mr Porter in his libel case after a complaint from Jo Dyer – a friend of the alleged sexual assault victim in the original case.
Ms Dyer told Federal Court that Ms Chrysanthou was in a conflict of interest because she advised him on related matters, before dealing with Mr Porter’s case.
Judge Thomas Thawley agreed and Ms. Chrysanthou was removed from the case.
She and Mr. Porter were ordered to pay costs to Ms. Dyer.
But there was a dispute over the exact amount, after Ms Dyer’s lawyers sought orders for a lump sum.
Anne Horvarth, acting for Ms Chrysanthou, told the court today that she wanted to see the timesheets, to determine whether the amount requested was fair.
“We don’t know who did what, when,” she said.
Ms. Dyer’s attorneys have agreed to provide the documents.
Justice Thawley also told the parties he was too busy for the rest of the year and referred the rest of the case to the court clerk.
Ms Dyer’s attorney, Michael Hodge, agreed with the other attorneys to save time and costs in court.
But he added that this had not been possible until this week, as it was not clear whether Ms Chrysanthou wanted to appeal or delay the determination of costs.
Lawyer “refused to accept” risk of information misuse, judge says
Ms. Chrysanthou had previously argued that she shouldn’t have to pay any fees since she had taken a neutral stance.
But Justice Thawley concluded that was not the case.
“Ms. Chrysanthou has always refused to accept that there is a relevant risk of misuse of confidential information or … [that] it was in the interests of the administration of justice that she stop acting for Mr. Porter, ”he told the court.
He noted that she was wrong on both counts, while Ms. Dyer was fully successful.
He said the ordinary rules that fees follow the event applied to her.
Mr. Porter had sought to pay only 70% of the costs, saying a late affidavit extended the hearing from three to four days.
But Justice Thawley dismissed this, believing it was not late and added important information to the case.
A registrar will now decide how much and in what form the fees should be paid.