Brittany Higgins coming to Perth to face former boss Linda Reynolds face-to-face for legal mediation

Tim Clarke
The West Australian
3 Min Read
Brittany Higgins and her ex-boss Linda Reynolds will come face-to-face in Perth next week in a bid to mediate the claim away from a potentially explosive trial.
Brittany Higgins and her ex-boss Linda Reynolds will come face-to-face in Perth next week in a bid to mediate the claim away from a potentially explosive trial. Credit: The West Australian

Brittany Higgins and her ex-boss Linda Reynolds — who is accusing the former staffer of defaming her on social media — will come face-to-face in Perth next week in a bid to mediate the claim away from a potentially explosive trial.

Two days have been set aside for a mediation conference between the outgoing WA senator, her former junior media adviser and their legal teams.

Seven News have confirmed that mediation is due to take place in person.

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That will mean Ms Higgins and her fiancée David Sharaz — who is also being sued by Ms Reynolds — returning to Australia from their new love nest in France, where they have been based since late last year.

They moved there days after the end of another defamation trial, which saw Bruce Lehrmann sue Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson over the interview in which Ms Higgins’ alleged she had been raped by him in Parliament House.

Ms Higgins had to give extensive evidence in that trial, even though she was not a named party in the defamation action.

But in Ms Reynolds’ case, she is being sued personally, for defamation and breaching non-disparagement clause allegedly signed as part of a deed of settlement and release in March 2021.

Pictures of the Senate Inquiry to the 'Closing Loopholes Bill' Inquiry in Perth. Pictures of Senator Linda Reynolds
Linda Reynolds. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

In her Supreme Court writ, Senator Reynolds says Ms Higgins’s story published on Instagram on July 4 last year breached the settlement deed.

The defamation claims target both the Instagram story and Twitter posts allegedly made by Ms Higgins on that date.

In one, she chastised her former boss for continuing “to harass me through the media and in the parliament”.

Senator Reynolds claims she suffered loss and damage as a result of the posts.

A similar claim has been made against Mr Sharaz, over a number of social media posts published online in the wake of Ms Higgins’ allegations of being raped by a former colleague in Senator Reynolds’ Canberra office.

Justice Marcus Solomon has overseen the action since it emerged last year, and has consistently called on both sides to mediate – ordering the sessions face-to face.

“Modern litigation and its cost is such that many matters that are taken through to their conclusion are likely to be financially crippling, sometimes even for the winning party,” he wrote in one judgment.

“But money is not the only, and probably not the biggest cost. The human cost of litigation looms large.

“No one should imagine they can remain immune from the psychological stress and emotional pain of litigation of this nature.

“The human cost too can be crippling, sometimes insurmountable.”

Ms Higgins’ legal team had requested Justice Solomon also be the mediator. But Ms Reynolds’ side opposed that, because it would rule him out of being the trial judge.

If next week’s mediation does not reach a settlement, then the prospect of a six-week defamation trial in looms in July.

Besides suing the couple, Ms Reynolds has also threatened to freeze their assets after the pair moved to France.

Former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins and partner David Sharaz arrive at the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra, Thursday, October 27, 2022. Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann is accused of raping a colleague Brittany Higgins at Parliament House in 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

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