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Linda Reynolds, Brittany Higgins defamation battle: More mediation slated in another defamation twist

Tim Clarke
The Nightly
3 Min Read
In yet another twist to the lengthening legal saga, The Nightly can reveal that WA’s Supreme Court has pencilled in May 21 for a mediation conference between Ms Reynolds, Ms Higgins and her fiancée David Sharaz.
In yet another twist to the lengthening legal saga, The Nightly can reveal that WA’s Supreme Court has pencilled in May 21 for a mediation conference between Ms Reynolds, Ms Higgins and her fiancée David Sharaz. Credit: The Nightly

Another attempt at mediation between Linda Reynolds and Brittany Higgins – who are still at legal loggerheads over defamation claims by the outgoing Senator – has been scheduled for later this month.

In yet another twist to the lengthening legal saga, The Nightly can reveal that WA’s Supreme Court has pencilled in May 21 for a mediation conference between Ms Reynolds, Ms Higgins and her fiancée David Sharaz.

It is not immediately clear whether that will be in person, as was the previous marathon session in March. A court spokesperson said that had not yet been determined.

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But the prospect of any more mediation is a surprise in itself, given the increasingly bitter back-and-forth between the opposing sides as July’s trial date draws nearer.

Just last week, the court was told that Mr Sharaz could not afford to defend himself in the ongoing action – while he pleaded for Ms Reynolds to settle with Ms Higgins.

In reply, Ms Reynold said she “looks forward to the trial so that we can bring an end to this dispute and move on.”

The next move will be a strategic conference between both sides in court on Friday. Another conference is scheduled for three days after the mediation.

The trial is due to begin on July 21.

Meanwhile, the true cost of Bruce Lehrmann’s failed defamation battle against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson will be revealed on Friday.

The Federal Court has confirmed that Justice Michael Lee will make his final judgment on the case at 2.15pm WST on May 10.

And that final will be his costs order on who pays how much of the multi-million dollar legal bill left over from the sensational trial which ended with Lehrmann being labelled a rapist by one of the country’s most senior judges.

He has already decreed that he will be making a costs order in Network Ten’s favour.

Dr Matt Collins, the lead barrister for Ten, said in a written submission that the entire cost of the case should be borne by Lehrmann, who they said brought his case on a “deliberately wicked and calculated basis”.

Network Ten also pointed out they had made an offer to Mr Lehrmann to settle the claim a month before the trial was due to start.

In a separate submission, lawyers for former presenter Lisa Wilkinson also said Lehrmann should pay for their separate defence team

In his response, Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers admitted that legal precedent – including that in the case of Ben Roberts-Smith – meant the court could find that he was liable for all the costs.

But they argued he should not be ordered to pay them all.

They argued Lehrmann should not have to pay for the portion of time it took to argue Network Ten’s qualified privilege defence – that Ten acted reasonably in publishing their original interview with Ms Higgins which sparked the defamation claim.

Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers have also been granted an extension in time to consider whether to launch an appeal against Justice Lee’s judgment.

His deadline to lodge potential appeal papers before Wednesday was May 13

But with hundreds of pages of judgement, thousands of pages of transcript and exhibits, it was stated that proposed media law barrister Guy Reynolds SC would need longer

It was agreed that he have until May 31 to decide whether the appeal would be lodged.

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